The footballing authorities are adamant they want to do all they can to complete the current season, so there will be plenty of questions for our region’s clubs to answer when matches eventually resume. In the first of a series of features encompassing all our North-East clubs, Scott Wilson assesses the five key issues Newcastle United will have to address when football returns


Having beaten Southampton in their final game before the sporting shutdown, Newcastle United find themselves in a strong position in the Premier League table. However, if the current campaign is played to a conclusion, they are not yet safe, and the overriding priority in the final nine matches will be to guarantee top-flight survival.

One more win should do it, with the Magpies currently sitting on the 35-point mark from 29 games. They are eight points clear of Bournemouth, who occupy the final relegation slot, and should not be at significant risk of dropping into the Championship unless things go badly awry.

Assuming the existing fixture list remains the same, their remaining matches of the current campaign are reasonably inviting, with back-to-back home games against Sheffield United and Aston Villa set to kick off their return to action, which the Premier League hopes will occur at the start of June.

Win either of those games, and the final stages of the season should be relatively stress-free. Fail to hit the ground running when things resume, though, and Newcastle could find themselves having to negotiate a tricky run-in that is currently due to see them face Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool in three of their final five games.


It is not just the Premier League who continue to insist they hope to play out the current campaign to its conclusion. The Football Association also remain adamant they want to complete this season’s FA Cup, even if the need for seven knockout matches will place an already-packed fixture list under considerable strain.

As one of the eight sides left in the competition, Newcastle will be keen to keep the FA Cup going, especially as this season’s efforts represent a marked improvement for a club that had built up a horrendous FA Cup record over the last decade-and-a-half.

Having seen off West Brom in round five, Newcastle were drawn at home to Manchester City in the last eight, and given that City could also have Champions League matches to factor into their summer fixture list, a meeting with Pep Guardiola’s side might not be a bad outcome.

In theory, a victory in the last-eight would earn Newcastle a trip to Wembley in the semi-finals. Who knows where the semi-finals will be staged if games are taking place behind-closed-doors, but an appearance in the last four of the FA Cup would be quite an achievement.


The contractual complexities of playing deep into the summer are still to be resolved, and while Matty Longstaff is currently due to become a free agent at the end of June, it is quite conceivable his current deal could be extended to enable him to continue to play into July or August.

However, at some stage this year, the younger of the two Longstaff brothers will be free to leave the Magpies, and it is troubling that despite months of negotiations, he is still no closer to signing a new deal.

Steve Bruce insists Newcastle have made an “attractive offer”; Longstaff’s representatives are understood to regard the Magpies’ package as a major undervaluation of their 20-year-old’s client’s worth. As a result, the two parties have spent the last few months at an impasse.

Inter Milan have made a formal approach to Longstaff and his agents – overseas clubs have been able to talk to the midfielder since January – while Arsenal, Everton and West Ham United are also known to have signalled their interest. If Newcastle are serious about holding on to one of their prize academy-produced assets, they will have to return to the negotiating table.


It remains to be seen how the coronavirus crisis affects the summer transfer window – will clubs be reluctant to spend lavish sums if the economy is in meltdown or will football continue to exist in its own bubble?

Whatever happens, Newcastle will want to conduct some business, with Steve Bruce’s decision to limit his January transfer activity to loan signings meaning there should be a reasonably substantial sum available for investment this summer.

As reported yesterday, Newcastle’s recruitment team are already looking at turning Danny Rose’s loan move into a permanent transfer, and there is also a good chance the Magpies could push for a similar arrangement with Valentino Lazaro, currently on loan from Inter Milan, and Nabil Bentaleb, a January loan addition from Schalke.

Beyond that, Bruce’s priorities are expected to be a creative midfielder and a centre-forward, with the need for a new striker set to increase if one or both of Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle is allowed to leave.


Unsurprisingly, the takeover talk surrounding Newcastle United has gone very quiet in the last few months. Given all the uncertainty in the world at the moment, this is not the time to be spending £350m on acquiring a Premier League football club.

However, assuming things return to some sort of normality at some stage, the overarching questions about Newcastle’s future ownership will once again return to centre stage.

Does Mike Ashley still want to sell, or if his core retail businesses collapse might he regard Newcastle as a solid, reliable asset that is worth holding on to? Does the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund still regard Premier League football as an attractive investment opportunity, and view Newcastle as a particularly appealing option? Is there any realistic chance of Amanda Staveley putting a viable consortium together?

These are questions that are impossible to answer until the global coronavirus pandemic plays out. Eventually, though, the way in which they are answered will do much to determine Newcastle’s trajectory in the next few years.