Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley was making moves both on and off the pitch on Wednesday.

Ashley's latest move in the retail world saw his Frasers Group increase their stake in Hugo Boss, while at Newcastle United, dependable defender Ciaran Clark signed a new two-year deal.

It came amid fears that a Chinese lawsuit could add to Premier League clubs' financial uncertainty while a reminder of how Steve Bruce's Aston Villa tenure had worrying similarities to his current Newcastle struggles.

Here is your Newcastle United digest on Thursday, January 21.

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley makes January investment for Frasers Group

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has made a January investment by increasing Frasers Group stake in Hugo Boss.

Frasers Group initially bought around 3.5m shares in the luxury fashion chain last June before upping their stake the following month.

Now, BusinessLive reports the retail empire - which also owns the likes of House of Fraser, Sports Direct, and Flannels - has once again upped their stake in Hugo Boss to more than 15%.

Frasers Group branded their initial decision to buy up shares as a strategic investment, and now boasts 15.2% total ownership of the company.

The company confirmed the move in a short stock-market announcement which read: “This investment reflects Frasers Group’s growing relationship with Hugo Boss and belief in Hugo Boss’s long-term future.

“Frasers Group intends to be a supportive stakeholder and create value in the interests of both Frasers Group’s and Hugo Boss’ shareholders.”

Read the full story, here.

Newcastle handed major boost as Ciaran Clark signs new contract with the club

Newcastle United have confirmed that defender Ciaran Clark has signed a new two-year deal at the club.

Clark joined Newcastle in the summer of 2016 from Aston Villa and has been one of the club's most consistent performers across his 103 appearances for the Magpies.

However, the 31-year-old's contract with the club was set to expire at the end of the current season but Clark, who won Newcastle's Player of the Season award in 2016/17 campaign, has now committed his immediate future to the club.

"It's a brilliant feeling and I'm delighted that I've managed to get it signed," Clark told NUFC TV.

"My contract was ending in the summer; for me, I was trying to stay more focused on the games, getting back involved this season and trying to play games, and I've managed to do that over the last few weeks.

"To be back playing was the real aim for me, then the contract has followed, so I'm delighted to concentrate now on the next couple of years."

The Chinese lawsuit over Premier League's 'double standard' which could impact Newcastle United

The Chinese streaming firm whose deal was terminated by the Premier League has retaliated with legal action over a media rights payment row.

The Financial Times report PP Sports are countersuing the Premier League following the breakdown of their broadcast agreement worth £515m.

The Premier League ended the deal in September last year, and launched a £158m lawsuit against the service owned by Chinese retail conglomerate Suning for missed rights fee payments.

However, the Chinese firm has now launched a counter legal action, and are seeking around £85.5m for payments already made. Suning told the FT they had received "less than a third of the value of this contract but paid half the money for it.”

The statement reads: 'The Premier League seems to have adopted a double standard and treated a domestic UK broadcaster differently from a Chinese broadcaster.

'We have made our best efforts to reach a compromise but we have been left with no choice but to take legal action.'

It is a move which creates further financial uncertainty for Newcastle United over just how much broadcast rights will be worth moving forward.

Football finance expert Kieran Maguire believes the ongoing ramifications of the pandemic has already cost the Magpies two 'Premier League' signings, and the current relegation fears could set the club back in excess of £100m.

It is a sour turn of events for a deal that was the second largest of the Premier league's lucrative international TV deals.

Read the full story, here.

The truth about Steve Bruce's Aston Villa spell, how it ended and how it compares to Newcastle reign

The pressure on Steve Bruce as Newcastle United manager continues to grow by the game.

For all the manager's talk of his Magpies side being a 'work in progress', the growing feeling among supporters is that club simply cannot progress while the 60-year-old remains at the helm.

Newcastle are now without a win in their last nine matches and have scored once in open play in the last eight of those. Onlookers have criticised United's lack of attacking ambition and their 'basic setup' and that has been backed up the statistics which have the Magpies bottom of most performance metrics in the Premier League.

While Bruce's side managed to outrun the statistics to amass 17 points in their first 11 games, they cannot outrun them forever and with their points total now standing at 19 points from 18 games, there are real fears that Newcastle could now be dragged into a relegation battle.

Luckily, there currently remains a seven point gap between themselves and the Premier League's relegation zone but, in the eyes of most fans, Bruce has had his chance to prove he can progress the club and he hasn't taken that opportunity.

Some pundits have compared Bruce's Newcastle tenure to his time at Aston Villa. He had an initial positive bounce in the 2016/17 season after a rotten start to their campaign and then guided Villa to the Championship play-off final the following year.

But a negative gameplan in the final cost them dearly and Fulham emerged as 1-0 victors at Wembley Stadium to seal promotion.

That negativity dragged into the following campaign and after a dismal start to the season, Bruce was dismissed. Interestingly, he was replaced by Dean Smith who galvanised the side to win promotion to the Premier League that same season - providing Bruce's dissenters with an argument that the grass can be greener if they do end up parting ways.

In order to draw a fair comparison of Bruce's Villa tenure to his time in charge of Newcastle, Chronicle Live spoke to Birmingham Live's Aston Villa reporter, Ashley Preece, to find out the truth behind his time at Villa Park and whether comparisons between the two spells are fair - ahead of the two sides facing each other at Villa Park on Saturday.

Read the full story, here.