Eastleigh boss Richard Hill has challenged his players to write their names in the history books and set up an “absolutely massive” FA Cup clash at home to Manchester United.
A visit from the Premier League giants is the mouth-watering reward on offer for the non-league Spitfires when they host Newport in Tuesday’s third-round replay at the Silverlake Stadium.
Eastleigh have never made it to the fourth round before and beating the League Two outfit to secure a glamour tie against United would hugely boost exposure and revenue.
“The prize is absolutely massive,” said boss Hill, whose side fought from back from a man and then a goal down to draw the first meeting 1-1 in south Wales.
“Forget what it could lead to financially – I don’t know, I don’t get involved in that.
“The financial side could be good, but just to get Manchester United to the Silverlake would just be… I keep saying it’s going to be massive, but it’s massive.”
Eastleigh beat Dover, fellow National League side Boreham Wood and stunned League One strugglers Reading en route to just their third ever appearance in the FA Cup third round.
Progress on Tuesday would secure at least an additional £105,000 in prize money and a £110,000 broadcast fee after the BBC selected United’s fourth-round tie for TV coverage.
“If the players want to dream, let them dream,” Hill said of the prospect of facing the 12-time FA Cup winners.
“My message to the players has been, today it might mean nothing that you got to the fourth round of the FA Cup personally.
“But in another 15, 20 years’ time, when there is a little snippet in the programme, local paper, that filters its way back through, it will mean something.”
Hill recalled the excitement of his son and grandson recently when they read about one of his goals in the programme at Oxford, where he played alongside United assistant Steve McClaren.
“I had a message (from) Steve McClaren,” he said. “He’s a very good mate of mine. We played together at Oxford back in the 80s. He sent me a message of good wishes, so I appreciate that.”
United’s visit to the 5,192-capacity Silverlake Stadium would comfortably be the biggest match in Eastleigh’s history.
The Hampshire side are exploring the possibility of temporary seating and say the game will be played at their home “unless our Safety Advisory Group feels the club cannot stage the match safely, which we feel is extremely unlikely”.
On the prospect of United coming to the Silverlake Stadium, a ground that welcomed just 360 fans for his first game in charge in 2012, Hill said: “It would be unbelievable, wouldn’t it? But I don’t make those decisions.
“If we are successful tomorrow, if it’s decided that the game should be moved, then I have to accept that.
“But I’m sure, knowing (owner) Stewart (Donald), that any remote chance that it can be played here… you’ve got to remember that’d be a massive legacy for him to leave as well.
“The chairman of Eastleigh Football Club, in the fourth round of the FA Cup and got Manchester United to the Silverlake. (Even) Manchester United in a pre-season friendly would be massive at the Silverlake.”