NEWCASTLE fans are still nervously waiting to see if a £300m Saudi-led takeover for the club goes ahead.
The north-east club continue their "no comment" stance on takeover reports, but the latest suggests Saudi Arabia will bid for Premier League TV rights to ensure their deal goes through.
Follow all the latest updates from the North East below…
GOOD MORNING NEWCASTLE FANS
Newcastle are now preparing for their return to action over the weekend of Friday June 19 to Sunday June 21, after the Premier League confirmed their plans for Project Restart.
The Magpies. haven't played since March 7, when they beat Southampton 1-0 at St Mary's, with their next scheduled fixture due to be a home clash with Sheffield United.
Newcastle have maintained their “no comment” status on all takeover enquiries, as the Saudi Arabia group headed by Mohammed bin Salman looks to buy the club.
The Newcastle Chronicle say the Bin Salman group remain confident that they will pass the Premier League's 'fit and proper' test, with reports of a delay being played down.
And boss Steve Bruce has admitted his squad are still getting used to life after lockdown.
The Magpies trained yesterday for the first time as a group since March, but players left the training ground straight after the session without the usual routine of visits to the treatment room and canteen for lunch.
He said: “The world has changed – and it's not normal.
“After a session like that there would normally be massages and that's not allowed or go to the canteen.
“They have to arrive dressed and park three places away.
“So it's all stuff you have to adhere to yourself.
“We have proven it looks very safe.”
The FA Cup final could be staged on August 1 – seven days earlier than scheduled.
Premier League bosses have agreed that the top-flight season should restart on June 17 and finish on July 25 or 26.
This means the FA could end the season with their showpiece final on August 1 with the match – along with the semi-finals – to be staged behind closed doors at Wembley.
Football chiefs were expecting an August 8 final as it was feared the Premier League was not going to restart until June 26.
But the news of a June 17 date has given the organisation a big boost and a bit more time to play with.
FREESY DOES IT
Liverpool could clinch their first-ever Premier League title live on Sky Sports.
And fans will be able to watch it for FREE alongside 24 other matches on the football giant.
Sky Sports will show 64 matches in total when the Premier League returns on June 17.
And 25 of those will be free-to-air, meaning viewers do not need a subscription to tune in for the action.
One of those games will be the Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool on the first weekend.
And Jurgen Klopp’s men will taste glory if Manchester City lose to Arsenal days before on Wednesday June 17.
THE HOUSE OF SAUD
There will be four matches on Sundays too, at 12pm, 2pm, 4.30pm and 7pm.
In order to fit in all games on TV, new kick-off times will be introduced.
Friday and Monday games will be at 8pm, while Saturday will have FOUR matches starting at 12.30pm, 3pm, 5.30pm and 8pm.
Midweek games, played on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays, will have 6pm and 8pm starts, allowing fans to watch footie all evening.
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters confirmed earlier reports by saying: “Today we have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday 17 June.
“But this date cannot be confirmed until we have met all the safety requirements needed, as the health and welfare of all participants and supporters is our priority.
‘’Sadly, matches will have to take place without fans in stadiums, so we are pleased to have come up with a positive solution for supporters to be able to watch all the remaining 92 matches.
“The Premier League and our clubs are proud to have incredibly passionate and loyal supporters. It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home.
“We will continue to work step-by-step and in consultation with all our stakeholders as we move towards resuming the 2019/20 season.”
Premier League chiefs have confirmed England's top flight WILL return on June 17 – with Manchester City vs Arsenal starting the action.
New kick-off times have been announced and all 92 remaining matches will be televised.
As part of the plans to show every game, four matches will be shown for free on BBC for the first time.
However, all safety requirements must be in place for Project Restart to go ahead.
HOMES FROM HOMES
Liverpool's remaining home games as well as some major London derbies will reportedly be played at neutral venues.
The measures will be taken in order to deter fans from gathering outside the stadiums, according to the Times.
LOOK OVER HAIR
Valentino Lazaro asked his Twitter followers which of this Magpies quartet had the best barnet as Newcastle returned to training after lockdown.
Newcastle's players were back training together today as the Premier League edges closer to a return.
Premier League clubs are reportedly looking into arranging friendlies to ensure they enter Project Restart as fit as possible.
Fears over injuries are high ahead of football recommencing next month.
And Daily Telegraph report on today’s discussions between the clubs featuring talk of friendlies.
Interested teams want to be allowed to travel to nearby rivals for full-length matches on training grounds.
Not every manager is said to be desperately behind the idea, but those unconvinced believe they will have to play them anyway to ensure they are not disadvantaged.
Rafael Benitez is the right man to lead Newcastle into their new era, according to his former Valencia player Miguel Angel Angulo.
Along with Mauricio Pochettino, the ex-Toon boss has been touted for a return to Tyneside.
And Angulo believes Benitez would be a “phenomenal” capture for Newcastle.
He told Tribal Football: “I believe he is one of the greatest managers that Valencia have ever had. It was a great experience for us as players, as we learnt a lot under him.
“I think it would be phenomenal for Benitez to return to Newcastle, given how well he knows the club. I know that Benitez was based in England for a long time now but I don't know the reasons that he left Newcastle the first time around.
“He has a great reputation in England and he is very hard working too. It would be great if he could return to the Premier League.”
With Newcastle back in contact training today, club doctor Paul Catterson has admitted his worries over the workouts.
Although coronavirus concerns are not as large as the potential spate of injuries it may bring.
Catterson told the Chronicle: “People have mentioned pre-season many times. The manager has mentioned the fact it has been longer than a normal closed season.
“My main worry is about the contact training we're going to have. We don't want an explosion of injuries in the matches we are about to have.
“We have to try to make the players as robust as possible. It does have a pre-season feel to it, maybe because the sunshine is with us.
“The players are having to work hard. But it's not a normal pre-season. Once we get up and going with the contact part of training it'll feel normal again.”
PO-PO A GO-GO
Police in England have reportedly given the green light for MOST Premier League games taking place at regular venues.
Neutral grounds were touted as a major part of Project Restart but were met with fierce opposition from several teams.
The Mail now reports that police are happy for games to be held across the country, in each of the 20 grounds.
Yet they still hold reservations over a small number of high-profile matches that could still attract fans to gather outside the ground – breaking coronavirus restrictions.
Newcastle players are back in full group training for the first time today.
Following the Premier League's vote to take another step towards Project Restart, Toon players upped the ante in their session on Thursday morning.
COUT SOME SLACK
Newcastle target Philippe Coutinho is edging closer to a Premier League return with Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea battling for his signature, according to reports.
The former Liverpool playmaker is looking for a new club this summer with Barcelona hopeful of cashing in.
Arsenal are making the strongest case to bring him to the Emirates with boss Mikel Arteta ready to make him the lynchpin in his side.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Coutinho feels Arteta's style of football would help him achieve his best form on the field.
The article also states how the player would be itching to get his career back on track in England's top flight.
Chelsea are also monitoring his situation with boss Frank Lampard hopeful of bolstering his attack with star-studded names.
American tycoon Henry Mauriss is keeping an eye on the Newcastle takeover amid reports of a rival bid.
Having spoken to Mike Ashley before the Saudi-led bid gathered pace, he is still ready to step up with a rival offer, say the Mirror.
However the PIF consortium still have an exclusivity period to complete a deal for the club.
And, in that period, Mauriss will not comment publicly on his interest.
JOS YOU WAIT AND SEE
Former Newcastle striker Joselu believes supporters should be very excited if the takeover goes ahead.
Now at Alaves, the Spaniard spent 18 months on Tyneside and scored six goals.
He told AS: “Newcastle is a very big club with incredible fans.
“The stadium is spectacular and if this new project goes well it will be a blast.”
RIGHT ON THE MONEY
Newcastle's prospective new Saudi owners could bid for Premier League TV rights to ease through the Toon takeover.
The league's Middle East and North Africa broadcast contract expires is to be handed out next year, ahead of beIN Sports’ £500million, three-year deal expiring in 2022.
And the Mirror report on Saudi plans to invest in these rights as a sign it is serious about piracy claims.
The nation's links to beOutQ, an illegal streaming service, have led to large concerns over their suitability as club owners.
PREM RETURN EXPLAINED
Are you a little lost trying to find out when the Premier League is returning? Well have no fear as SunSport has answered all your questions ahead of today's important meeting between the clubs.
What date is Project Restart likely to take place?
What's gonna happen with the TV money?
What time will the matches be?
Our man Dave Fraser is on hand to fill you in with everything you need to know about the Premier League's return.
Imagine if the takeover goes through and Newcastle line up like this next year?
GOOD MORNING NEWCASTLE FANS
Newcastle's £300million takeover is in serious doubt after the World Trade Organisation ruled that Saudia Arabia is behind pirate TV station beoutQ.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have opened talks with Philippe Coutinho and lead Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea in the race to sign him.
Finally, transfer guru Antero Henrique is reportedly being chased by Newcastle as they look to appoint him as their director of football.
Mauricio Pochettino has put Newcastle on full alert by saying after six months out of football, his “tanks are full” and he is ready to manage again.
He said: “Are we ready and hungry to get back to work? Yes. After six months, our tanks are completely full.
“Always, you dream of the perfect club. The perfect project.
“But we are a coaching staff that are open to listen to all the projects, all the people. We are learning and sharing ideas.
“You never know when it’s going to be the motivation or the inspiration to say, Oh, they are the right people, and you want to be with them or their club.
“We are very receptive to listen to all the people because every single conversation we can learn from and maybe we can see a motivation to go with them.”
Gareth Bale can recapture his “superstar status” with a mega-money move to Newcastle, according to Brazil legend Rivaldo.
He told BetFair: “Newcastle should receive a big money injection this summer with a new owner coming to town and this could be a great destination for Gareth Bale, as he could reassume his superstar status at the club and keep earning a big amount of money.
“It would be a great chance for him to prove he is still a top-class player and be considered again one of the best in the world, so if this offer really comes, I think he should accept it.
“At Newcastle, he would be the biggest star of the team and could lead a rejuvenated squad to a good Premier League campaign.”
GONZ WITH THE WIND
Moneybags Newcastle want Chelsea flop Gonzalo Higuain – who could leave Juventus after a bust-up.
Toon want a big-money signing if they complete their Saudi Arabia takeover, which would give them the richest owners in the Premier League.
The 32-year-old ex-Real Madrid forward could see his £5million-a-year contract terminated by Juve, after he went AWOL after the coronavirus outbreak.
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