NEWCASTLE UNITED'S arbitration case against the Premier League, which was instigated in an attempt to resurrect the club’s proposed Saudi Arabian takeover, has been delayed until the start of 2022 at the earliest.

The Magpies issued a short statement this evening confirming that the hearing, which was initially due to take place this month, will now not be held before the end of the year because of issues relating to the disclosure of evidence.

The delay is a huge blow to Mike Ashley's hopes of selling Newcastle this summer, and greatly increases the likelihood of the Sports Direct boss remaining in charge for at least the first half of next season.

It is also a major setback to North Yorkshire financier Amanda Staveley, who had been hoping to buy Newcastle from Ashley as the figurehead of a consortium comprising her PCP Capital Partners group as well as the Saudi Arabian Public Investment fund (PIF) and the Reuben brothers.

Newcastle’s statement said: "The parties attended a hearing today in the case between Newcastle United and the Premier League.

“The main hearing of the arbitration has regrettably now been adjourned until early 2022 due to issues with the disclosure of evidence. The parties will be making no further comment at this time.”

The disclosure issues are understood to relate to both parties, and have resulted in a rescheduling that is the latest twist in a takeover saga that has been running for the best part of two years.

At the start of last summer, Ashley thought he had agreed a £340m deal for the club, but the sale collapsed when Staveley’s group were unable to successfully complete the Premier League’s owners and directors’ test.

It has been claimed that the Premier League felt unable to adequately differentiate between the leading figures involved in the PIF and the senior members of the Saudi Arabian state, amid a backdrop of concerns over alleged Government-backed broadcasting piracy within Saudi Arabia.

Both Staveley and Ashley have called for the arbitration proceedings to be held in public, but the Premier League’s regulations currently dictate that they should proceed in private.

Newcastle are also involved in a separate case against the Premier League at the Competition Appeal Tribunal, in which they claim that the governing body breached competitions rules by blocking the proposed takeover.

Meanwhile, with Steve Bruce admitting there has been no significant progress with Newcastle’s attempts to re-sign Joe Willock, the Magpies have discussed a possible loan move for Chelsea attacking midfielder Conor Gallagher.

Bruce held talks over Gallagher last summer, only for the youngster to eventually agree a season-long loan with West Brom.

He performed creditably despite the Baggies’ relegation to the Championship, and returned to Chelsea’s senior squad earlier this summer hoping to force his way into Thomas Tuchel’s first-team plans.

However, with Tuchel boasting a plethora of attacking-midfield options, there appears to be little chance of Gallagher playing regular first-team football at Stamford Bridge next season.

As a result, there has already been talk of another loan deal, with Chelsea officials not wanting to sell the 21-year-old at such an early stage of his career.

The feeling is that another loan will benefit all parties, and the Newcastle hierarchy have flagged up their interest with their counterparts in South London.