Newport County v Manchester City: Same game. Two very different clubs

Credit: PA Images

When Manchester City walk out onto Rodney Parade they will do so in just the same way as Newport County: 11 men. 90 minutes. Same rules. Same aim.

But that is where the similarities stop.

Whichever way you look at it, these are two clubs in completely different footballing worlds and incomparable financial realities.

  • Let's start with the facilities.
Rodney Parade is one of the UK's oldest football grounds

Rodney Parade is one of the UK’s oldest football grounds akin, almost, to an historical monument in Newport. It’s seen the city’s sporting heritage come and go over 142 years. But it’s age is starting to show. A normal capacity of just 8700, a large proportion of which are standing on terraces and those areas with seats are often cramped and open to the weather.

  • Then there’s the dressing rooms.

Small, basic, bare they are of a bygone era. Yes, their owners have made the best of them with a recent lick of paint, but in truth, they are more like those of a Sunday League that professional stadia.

And even when you move over into the grounds most recent addition, the Bisley Stand, that houses a handful of corporate boxes and bars that have brought the ground into the modern era with much needed money-making outlets, they are by most grounds' standards low-key.

Compare that to the Etihad. Not only a 55,000 all-seater bowl, built of course for the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002, but behind the scenes it is a picture of corporate perfection.

The Etihad Stadium holds 55,000 people

Hospitality? You’ve got it. 5 star facilities are the norm. And if one of the numerous club restaurants aren’t quite enough, how about eating in the players tunnel itself? Yes, at £600 per person it’s an expensive day out, but up close and personal you will get.

And that’s all before you’ve been to the club’s sprawling high-tech training campus. This state-of-the-art complex has everything the modern professional could hope for and more: hydrotherapy centre, analysis suites, player’s canteen, medical centre and education rooms. It is a truly world leading facility.

Compare that to Newport County, who share their rented training ground with a mixture of facilities open to the public and temporary buildings at their council-owned base and well, you get the idea.

So if the bricks and mortar are far apart how about the players themselves?

Take a deep, deep breath.

Riyad Mahrez was bought by City for £60m last year Credit: PA Images
How much Manchester City paid for Riyad Mahrez in 2018

Manchester City paid an eye-watering £60 million pounds for striker Riyad Mahrez back in 2018 - a figure that’s not too far away from the £55 million they paid for Kevin De Bruyne or the £57 million for Aymeric Laporte.

And when you add them all together you find a squad worth somewhere in the region of £700 million.

Newport are worth, shall we say, a bit less.

In fact under the current owners only two players have ever actually been paid for, the most of expensive of which was striker Padraig Amond at a relatively modest £30,000.

Padraig Amond joined Newport County for £30,000 Credit: PA Images

When you add him into the mix you’ll find a whole squad worth a mere £100,000. In footballing terms that is pretty much nothing - compare that to City, whose total team cost £700m.

So you get the picture.

Newport County and Manchester City are clubs in completely different footballing worlds. The stats show it time and time again. By every measure, every angle, every way you see it.

That, though, is what the FA Cup is all about. There are few competitions in football, for that matter any sport, that could not just facilitate such a mismatch, but allow the minnows to earn their shot.

Newport County have not got this far by chance. They have, time and time again - this season and last - proven their worth against opposition bigger and better in all departments.

Ask Leeds United, ask Tottenham. Ask Leicester and Middlesbrough too just what it takes to travel to Newport County and to play on a pitch more suited to the parks than elite sport, with a crowd up close and personal who bely their numbers and you’ll get a simple answer: it’s not a nice place to go.

And neither will it be for the superstars of Manchester City.

Can Newport County do it again? Perhaps. Although in all honesty it is highly, highly unlikely.

But over 90 minutes stranger things have happened.

Not many, but they have.

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