MIKE ASHLEY is set to tell Steve Bruce that his summer transfer budget has been halved as a result of the coronavirus pandemic when the pair discuss their plans for the next few months on Wednesday.

With the Premier League still refusing to give any indication as to when they will deliver a verdict on Amanda Staveley’s proposed £300m takeover, Ashley will instruct Bruce to push ahead with his rebuilding plans as normal during Wednesday’s video conference call.

However, with Newcastle’s income having been significantly reduced in the wake of the Government’s coronavirus measures, Bruce’s spending power for this summer’s transfer window will be lowered accordingly.

At the start of the year, it was anticipated that the Newcastle boss would have around £70m to spend this summer as his only outlay during the January window was on loan signings.

The situation has changed, though, and it is now expected that the Magpies’ budget will be reduced to around £35m, although Bruce will have leeway to increase that figure by supplementing it with any funds raised from player sales. As this stage, however, the Newcastle boss is reluctant to allow any of his senior players to leave as it is unclear how easy it will be to secure a better replacement in the current market.

The Magpies manager accepts the changed financial reality, and has used a number of his recent press conferences to stress that Newcastle will not be the only club having to cut their cloth in response to coronavirus restrictions. Senior executives at Arsenal and Tottenham have already conceded that they are having to rewrite their club’s budgets, and most Premier League clubs are reassessing their spending options.

The final five home matches of Newcastle’s season were staged behind-closed-doors, as well as the FA Cup quarter-final with Manchester City, which is estimated to have cost the club around £5m in lost revenue. In addition, Premier League clubs have to pay a collective rebate of around £330m to Sky, BT Sport and the league’s international broadcasters because of the delayed end to the season.

The payment to Sky, which is worth around £170m, has been delayed to the 2021-22 season, and will be split according to finishing position so the sides receiving the most prize money will have to pay the biggest refund. However, it is still likely to cost Newcastle a minimum of £12m, with further payments to international broadcasters due on top. There are also concerns that income will be significantly reduced again next season, with the campaign currently due to begin without spectators in attendance in mid-September.

Bruce has spoken of wanting to make “four or five” additions this summer, but it is becoming increasingly clear that none of those signings will involve the kind of outlay that saw Joelinton become Newcastle’s record purchase for a fee of around £40m last summer. Instead, Newcastle’s biggest purchase this summer is likely to be in the region of £10-20m, and it is telling that Bruce is already examining the possibility of re-signing the Magpies’ current loan players on another loan deal rather than having to commit funds to signing them permanently.

Clearly, the situation would change at a stroke if the Premier League was to give the green light to Staveley’s Saudi-Arabia backed consortium, but as things stand, Newcastle’s recruitment team are working on the assumption that Ashley will remain in charge until at least the start of next season.

Bruce is expected to prioritise the purchase of attacking players this summer, although he used his post-match press conference on Sunday to talk up the likelihood of Dwight Gayle fighting for a starting spot when pre-season training begins in the middle of next month.

Gayle has been regarded as a peripheral figure for much of his Newcastle career, but having ended the season with four goals from his seven post-lockdown appearances, the 29-year-old is currently regarded as the Magpies’ number one striker ahead of Joelinton and Andy Carroll.

“He’s a player who’s been blighted by injury,” said Bruce. “By the time I arrived in China, he had a bad calf, and it took weeks and months to get over. Then, he did the other one, and that took weeks and months to get over again.

“He’s had a great end to the season though, so let’s hope he can have a really decent summer and come back firing because he’s reminded everybody that he’s a goalscorer.

“I’ve said that from day one, from the day I walked through the door here, that the kid’s a goalscorer. Given the opportunity, he’ll score, because that’s what he’s done all through his career.”