AT most football clubs, the end of one season marks the beginning of the next. At Newcastle United, however, the final game of the 2019-20 campaign will not herald the start of anything. On Tyneside, inertia rules okay.

It is now more than three weeks since Richard Masters, the chief executive of the Premier League, appeared before a Government committee and stated that he expected the governing body’s investigation into Amanda Staveley’s proposed takeover of Newcastle to be “concluded shortly”. Clearly, his definition of the word “shortly” does not tally with that of most fans.

Almost a month on, and nothing has changed. Staveley does not know whether her consortium will be given the green light to proceed. Mike Ashley does not know whether he will finally be able to draw a line under his time as Newcastle’s owner. Steve Bruce does not know whether he will still be employed as manager next season. And all the while, the clock to the Premier League’s proposed restart date on September 12 ticks on.

While other clubs begin to put hugely-important plans in place, Newcastle remain trapped in a footballing no-man’s land. Yes, they can make run-of-mill decisions like signing Mark Gillespie on a free transfer, but when it comes to the really big calls, like a £30m transfer or an improved contract for Allan Saint-Maximin, they are powerless to make a move.

Yesterday's suggestions that American businessman Henry Mauriss is once again waiting in the wings only added another layer of intrigue to an already murky mess.

Mauriss' worth is hard to ascertain, along with his plans for Newcastle. He appears to be talking a good game, but whether he would be able to negotiate an acceptable deal with Ashley if Staveley's bid was to be torpedoed remains a complete unknown.

For his part, Ashley appears to have lost interest entirely, which hardly augurs well if the Premier League decide to block Staveley’s Saudi-backed group. Embroiled in the challenge of trying to keep his retail empire afloat, he has already emotionally detached himself from the Magpies.

Clearly, that will have serious ramifications for Bruce, who has been trying to talk up his transfer plans while also acknowledging that the outcome of the takeover situation will have a profound effect on everything else that happens this summer.

Like everyone else on Tyneside, Bruce has grown weary of the uncertainty. Initially, he rebuffed questions about the takeover by insisting that as he could do nothing to influence the situation, it was not worth thinking about. Now he finds himself making a series of increasingly-desperate pleas to the Premier League.

“I’ve said many times now, we need some clarity on it, and to see what the decision is,” said Bruce, in the wake of Newcastle’s bore draw at Brighton on Monday. “Up until that time, I’ll just go to work, see (Lee Charnley) at the end of the week and plan for the summer and what we can do with what we have. It’s frustrating for everyone concerned, so let’s hope there’s a decision very, very shortly.”

If he sounds increasingly desperate, it is because he is. If Bruce is to be in charge next season, he wants to give himself every chance of building on what has been a reasonable first year in charge. However, with every day of inaction that passes, his ability to keep up with the rest of the teams in the Premier League recedes.

How can he sign anyone amid such confusion? How can he prevent the likes of Saint-Maximin or Miguel Almiron from becoming restless? How can he do anything when his own position remains up in the air?

The answer is that he cannot. But he will have to continue to muddle through until the Premier League finally deliver a verdict.

When they started assessing Staveley’s plans four months ago, the Premier League were effectively determining whether Newcastle’s proposed new owners were ‘fit and proper’. All that has become clear since is that they cannot use that moniker to describe themselves.