ESPN commentator Jon Champion believes Mansfield Town are the marginal favourites to progress to an FA Cup third round showdown against Liverpool because they have home advantage.
Stags face David Holdsworth’s Lincoln City at the One Call Stadium on Wednesday for a money-spinning third round match against the 18 time English champions in front of the ESPN cameras.
And Champion, who is the channel’s lead football commentator, believes that home advantage could prove to be the difference in what he expects to be ‘a very close match.’
“I am expecting a good game and a close one as well. I have seen both teams and I was impressed by Mansfield on Saturday,” he said.
“Both teams will be going into the game full of confidence for what is a fantastic prize ahead. Lincoln rested a few players against Dartford on Saturday as they returned to winning ways.
“Mansfield have a good home record, and on that basis I think they have to be regarded as favourites.
“Lincoln have a former Mansfield manager and former Mansfield players to give the game more spice. This is just one of those great ties that the FA Cup so often throws up.”
Champion, who last commentated in Mansfield for the play-off game against Northampton in 2004, also believes that the FA Cup could give Mansfield the perfect springboard to future success.
He added: “It is great for the clubs in both a financial and competitive sense if they can win a tie against Liverpool.”
“The TV money will be worth £135,000 alone, which is massive for both clubs and means that they can support themselves and not be reliant on a rich owner.
“The FA Cup is a fantastic way of redistributing the wealth in football. The cup run which saw Leyton Orient take Arsenal to a replay a few years ago earned the club £1.4m.
“I think for two teams such as these who are currently out of the Football League, cup runs like this give them hope and the chance to progress.
“A game against Liverpool gives the clubs a chance to be in the national spotlight. The pressure of what awaits could either inhibit or can inspire. This should be a great night of cup football.”
Mansfield warmed up for the FA Cup second round replay with a comprehensive 4-1 win at home to Ebbsfleet, while Lincoln comfortably beat Dartford 4-2 away.