Hello and welcome to our live blog bringing you coverage of Newcastle United.

You'll find all the latest updates about the club right here as well as the best analysis and opinion, too.

The Magpies are now on the verge of securing safety after a stunning win over Leicester that saw them move 12 points clear of relegation with four games to play. That means planning can now begin for next season with, of course, the takeover still in view.

As such, we will bring you all of the latest transfers and takeover gossip, news and reaction throughout the week.

Stick with us for all the latest news - and why not visit our podcast, The Everything is Black and White Podcast.

Bruce: I always said we'd be OK

What a win last night. Bruce thinks NUFC are nearly safe as they target another season in the PL.

I have said quietly for weeks that we'd be OK when we got our big players back. My staff have worked tirelessly to make sure we got to this position

Fulham boss Scott Parker ahead of Burnley clash

Fulham head to Burnley on Monday nine points behind Newcastle with four games to go.

And Cottagers boss Scott Parker has said his side need to win all four of their remaining games to achieve Premier League survival.

"These are games we need to win, and we'll do everything in our power to win. We’ve got four games left, and we need to win all four.

"We’re a young squad navigating through the toughest league in the world. What I have seen is a group of players relentlessly trying to get better and win matches.

"I’m expecting a tough game, Sean’s done an amazing job. We need to be fully aware. They have players with big experience and we need to stand up to that."

Scott Parker gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Fulham (Image: IAN WALTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

SuperMac: Newcastle fans don't buy excuses and Steve Bruce needs to hold his hands up for a poor season

Steve Bruce's latest excuse this last week for poor form is tiredness. The players are knackered.

Really? They will be tired after playing Manchester City that's for sure!

No, they are not tired. They are stressed out and I'll tell you why.

When you're a player 0-0 is stressful because you are striving for that initial breakthrough. Go a goal down and it is even more pressure of course.

You can only begin to relax and hopefully let your football flow when you get two goals ahead.

And this season United have held a 2-0 lead for exactly an hour. That is the amount of stress they have been under.

You can read Malcolm Macdonald's full column, here.

Steve Bruce (Image: Richard Sellers/PA Wire)

Mark Lawrenson blasts Newcastle performance against Arsenal as he predicts brutal night at Leicester

Newcastle United played like a team who thought they were mathematically safe in last weekend's defeat to Arsenal.

That was the damning verdict of former Magpies coach Mark Lawrenson who expects his former club to suffer more misery at the hands of Leicester this evening.

United remain nine points clear of the relegation zone with four matches remaining and avoiding defeat on Friday will move them within touching distance of securing their Premier League status for another season.

However, they face a Leicester side who are on course to qualify for the Champions League for just the second time in their history.

The Foxes are five points clear of fifth placed West Ham and can cement their place in the top four with a win over Newcastle.

And Lawrenson expects them to do just that, predicting them to seal comfortable 3-0 win over Steve Bruce's men at the King Power Stadium.

"Newcastle are not mathematically safe yet, but they played like they were when they lost to Arsenal last week," Lawrenson told BBC Sport

"Leicester have still got plenty to play for this season, and a win here would be another big step towards securing a top-four spot.

"The quicker they get that wrapped up, the better - then they can focus on the FA Cup final."

You can read the full story, here.

BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson (Image: Getty)

Allan Saint-Maximin nominated for Premier League Goal of the Month award

A second nominarion of the day for Saint-Maximin who has been nominated for the Premier League Goal of the Month award for April after his strike against Burnley.

You can vote for him, here.

Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at Turf Moor, Burnley. Picture date: Sunday April 11, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Burnley. Photo credit should read: Peter Powell/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

On this day in 2017

Newcastle United were crowned champions of the Championship!

Steve Bruce nominated for Premier League Manager of the Month

The Newcastle boss has been nominated for the April award alongside Sam Allardyce, Marcelo Bielsa and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

You can vote for him to win here.

Steve Bruce, Manager of Newcastle United passes the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Newcastle United

Rail seating, St James' Park and whether Newcastle United will follow rivals on safe standing

Newcastle United should follow the lead of several of their Premier League rivals and install rail seating in preparation for the introduction of 'safe standing' at St James' Park.

That's the view of the Newcastle United Supporters' Trust, who have called upon the Magpies to consider making the necessary reconfigurations needed this summer.

Chelsea became the latest top-flight rival to commit to rail seating in the expectation of a government decision to allow safe standing in football stadiums.

All-seater stadiums in the Premier League and Championships has been compulsory since the 1994/95 season, as a result of the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster.

But an interim report published last year by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) determined barriers in a seated area "mitigated the risk of crowd collapse".

These findings have increased expectations of a future change in legislation, and prompted a number of Premier League clubs to act ahead of an anticipated legislative change.

Tottenham and Wolves have already installed barrier seating, while Manchester United outlined their intentions in December to implement 1,500 barrier seats this calendar year.

Manchester City have since announced plans to install 5,620 rail seats ahead of the 2021/22 season, while Chelsea confirmed similar plans last month for the Matthew Harding Stand and Shed End at Stamford Bridge.

The prospect of safe standing at St James' Park has been discussed previously at a Fans' Forum, and has been the subject of on-off discussions with the NUST for several years.

The Magpies are understood to be awaiting any change in legislation before reviewing the idea once again.

You can read the full story, here.

Newcastle fans enjoy the win over Crystal Palace (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

Mike Ashley hellbent on Newcastle takeover - and the 'loss of opportunity' caused by Premier League

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is understood to be "hellbent" on delivering a completed takeover to the city and fans.

Sources close to the Sports Direct magnate have indicated that his anti-competition legal battle and the strongly-worded statement released on Thursday afternoon was a signal of intent as he seeks justice from the Premier League after last summer's collapsed takeover.

Ashley wants damages, costs and interest from the Premier League - but most importantly the whole takeover process restarted and ultimately what he deems to be the right result.

The bidding side are believed to still be at the table and have been informed of events throughout 2021 so far as Ashley stepped up his legal bid.

As it stands, Amanda Staveley, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and the Reuben brothers remain interested despite reports of PIF being interested in Inter Milan earlier this year.

Ashley's argument that Newcastle fans have been denied the chance to see their side compete at the business end of the table will be fought through legal channels and after going public, and calling the Premier League "the dark forces", those at the club have been told in no uncertain terms that he is finally ready to sell.

In his eyes there is a willing buyer and he is very much a willing seller at £340million.

With the HMRC investigation now completed, the deal is as simple and clear for the buyer as it has ever been with Ashley making it clear that the would-be owners, not him, can take United on to the next level.

You can read the full story, here.

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley

Allan Saint-Maximin nominated for Premier League Player of the Month

And you can vote for the Newcastle star, here.

Allan Saint-Maximin in action for Newcastle United against Liverpool at Anfield on April 24, 2021

Steve Bruce pinpoints main problem at Newcastle United - and makes summer window warning

Steve Bruce says that inconsistency has been one of Newcastle United's biggest enemies this season.

In truth, Newcastle should probably be safe from the drop by this stage and even if they'd picked up one more victory from their games against Brighton home and away, Sheffield United (a) or West Brom (a), they would be going into the last four games with the job done.

Bruce spoke about bettering Newcastle's points tally of 44 last season in his pre-match Press conference but regardless of their final total this term, United will be weighing in around 10 points light when you consider some of the games they've slipped up in this season.

Bruce addressed the issue in his Press conference and said:

"The biggest problem of any team in the bottom half of the division is inconsistency.

"The big teams with big players play at the top end of the league because they can stay there week-in. week-out.

"The reason why we're in the bottom half of the division is the inconsistency of all the teams.

"If you're in the bottom half, we're not alone in striving for that consistency."

You can read the full story, here.

Steve Bruce speaks to Steve Agnew in Newcastle's defeat to Brighton (Image: Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Newcastle vs Sheffield United ticket ballot is now open

The ticket ballot process for eligible supporters is now open. It closes at 10am on Sunday.

An email will be sent to all eligible supporters with instructions on how to enter the ballot. Accordingly, supporters are encouraged to check their contact email address is up-to-date on their online ticket account as a matter of urgency.

Leicester vs Newcastle team selector

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Steve Nickson's training ground visits and why Newcastle could target Hendrick and Fraser market

Steve Bruce has been planning for next season with head of recruitment Steve Nickson but the Newcastle United head coach has reiterated that the Magpies have put the 'really big decisions' on hold until the club secure their Premier League status.

Newcastle, who currently lie nine points clear of the relegation zone, would be as good as safe if they can win at high-flying Leicester on Friday night.

Whenever safety is mathematically secured, attention can then turn to player contracts and potential incomings and, perhaps, it would be a surprise if Newcastle moved away from last summer's strategy in the transfer market.

Bruce argued the case for targeting British and Irish players with experience of playing in the Premier League who, in theory, could settle quickly and Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser, Jamal Lewis and Jeff Hendrick all arrived accordingly.

Given the hit the club's finances have taken during the pandemic, Bruce is again keeping a close eye on players entering the final months of their contracts after previously signing Fraser, Hendrick and Mark Gillespie on Bosmans.

"I have a conversation with Steve Nickson every week when he comes into the training ground," Bruce told reporters on Zoom. "That's a constant but the really big decisions we've really put on hold until we secure our Premier League status and I think that's only right.

"Our total focus is on the club and keeping it in the division because, let's be fair, a few weeks ago, we were really up against it and we still are. We can't take anything for granted with it.

"But I think it's only right that the big, huge discussions should really take place when we have secured our Premier League status and we know where we are.

"Of course, every club will be the same. They will be looking at Bosmans, which are always attractive for obvious reasons, but I have to say to everyone that I can't see there being swathes of money anywhere in the Premier League from the discussions I've had with other managers.

You can read the full story, here.

Newcastle United head of recruitment Steve Nickson

Callum Wilson's 'mental state' suggests he'll finish with more than 10 goals - says Steve Bruce

Callum Wilson is in the best possible shape to finish the season strongly according to Steve Bruce.

The 10-goal top scorer admitted himself this week that he was disappointed not to have more goals to his name with the former AFC Bournemouth man yet to notch since returning from a hamstring injury.

However, with four games left - and two games against sides in the bottom three to come - Wilson is in a good place in the opinion of Bruce.

"He is over his injury which is vitally important.

"He's had 90 minutes under his belt so it's good for him and his mental state that he knows that his hamstring is OK."

Read the full story, here.

Callum Wilson is Newcastle United's top scorer in the Premier League this season with 10 goals (Image: Getty Images)

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to Friday's live blog.

Stick with us for updates throughout the day as we build up to tonight's Premier League clash with Leicester.

Ritchie's return

Steve Bruce admits that Matt Ritchie can start a row in an empty house - but insists he is delighted to see the winger back in the team.

The duo had a heated training ground discussion earlier this season but have since resolved their differences and Ritchie has played a part in the mini-revival that hauled Newcastle away from the bottom three.

Newcastle United's Matt Ritchie (Image: Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Ritchie is now hoping to help secure Premier League status in the last four games and Bruce has underlined his importance.

You can read the full story here.

Gibbo on Shelvey

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Here's a snippet of Gibbo's latest column, and it's safe to say he's not a fan of Jonjo Shelvey...

***

Shelvey is a one-trick pony, a trundler who can't get around the pitch, and a believer that a single Hollywood pass justifies selection.

In the modern game where pace and power rule he is a dinosaur. Yet Bruce has anointed him skipper which tends to seal his place in the starting line up.

Jones' influence

Brendan Rodgers has recognised how Newcastle United assistant Graeme Jones has helped Steve Bruce and the Leicester City boss can see 'how they are trying to shape the team and play'.

Bruce first looked at bringing in some additional coaching support back in November, when Steve Agnew was laid low by COVID and Stephen Clemence's father, Ray, died, and Jones was the Newcastle head coach's first choice.

Jones had previously worked as a No 2 with Belgium, Everton, Wigan and Swansea and even had a stint as a manager at his own right at Luton last season.

Bruce spoke to two other candidates but the 60-year-old felt Jones would be the best person for the job if Newcastle could convince the Gateshead native to leave his coaching role at Bournemouth after just five months on the South Coast.

Graeme Jones celebrates with Matt Ritchie after Newcastle United's win against Burnley at Turf Moor on April 11, 2021

Jones, ultimately, could not say no to his boyhood club and the new arrival vowed to offer a neutral opinion while also helping to develop a style of play that got Newcastle's best players out on the pitch.

Jones has taken on a hands-on role at Newcastle and whether it is drilling players on the training pitches or passing on instructions during games, Bruce has been 'very pleased with his input'.

Newcastle had lost six games in a row before Jones' came in but, since then, the Magpies have suffered five defeats in 14 games and Bruce's side can effectively guarantee their Premier League status with a win against Leicester on Friday night.

Ahead of the game at the King Power Stadium, Rodgers was keen to pay tribute to Bruce and the Leicester boss also had some kind words for the Newcastle head coach's staff.

You can read the full story here.

Evening update

Mike Ashley has released a damning statement after the HMRC discontinued their four-year investigation into Newcastle United.

Elsewhere, fans will return to St James' Park following a 15-month absence for the final home match of the season.

Here are your top Newcastle United stories for May 6.

Mike Ashley remains the owner of Newcastle United, despite repeated attempts to sell (Image: Leila Coker/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Inside 'explosive' day

Newcastle United's inability to compete with the Premier League's big boys has resulted in Mike Ashley referring to top-flight chiefs as "dark forces".

On an explosive day at St James' Park - even by the Magpies' own crazy standards - United were cleared by the HMRC after a four-year long investigation for tax treatment before news dropped of Ashley's legal team announcing an anti-competition claim against the Premier League.

Richard Masters, Yasir Al-Rumayyan and Mike Ashley

Whether Ashley and his representatives waited until Newcastle were effectively safe from relegation, which they could be by the time the weekend is over, remains unclear.

But hopes of any pardon for the Premier League which would have been caused by Newcastle going down, and the takeover battle being back-heeled to EFL chiefs and their own tests, have faded after an unbeaten April for Steve Bruce and the players.

You can read the full explainer from Lee Ryder here.

Benitez on PL return

Former NUFC boss Rafa Benitez has outlined his hopes of returning to work in the Premier League.

Benitez told Sky Sports News: "I moved to China because there were no top sides here, so I needed to keep competing and doing my job.

"But at the moment I'm quite keen to stay in England, in Liverpool. I'm watching every Premier League game and sometimes Championship games so that I'm always ready.

Rafa Benitez during his time in China (Image: Getty)

"The priority is England, the Premier League, my family is here and I like the style of football here. I will try to be ready here.

"I am watching the Serie A because it is a good league for me but there, in France, in Germany, in Portugal, I don't see too many options in these countries to have a project where you can develop players and make the team more competitive."

Club shop gaffe

Like many retail units in Newcastle city centre, the Newcastle United official club shop has spent the majority of 2021 with its shutters down due to the global pandemic.

The only information currently available to passers-by is an A4 piece of paper stuck to the inside of a window near the main entrance that reads: ‘This store will be closing in April 2021. Please shop online at: NUFC.com’

Mike Ashley is understood to have passed on control of the unit at St James’ Park ahead of an anticpated change in kit supplier

Eagle-eyed fans will notice that NUFC.com is a popular Newcastle United fan website (whose motto is ‘Proudly Unofficial'), rather than the club’s official page which is NUFC.co.uk.

It won't please Mike Ashley to know that potential customers are being directed to a fan site in error rather than the official e-commerce site operated by his brand Sports Direct.

You can read the full story here.

Fresh court case

Mike Ashley has filed ANOTHER court case against the Premier League.

The Magpies owner is already locked in an arbitration battle with top-flight chiefs over the club's failed takeover bid.

But now he is seeking damages, interests and costs from Premier League's top brass.

Mike Ashley

The claim is the same type of case as the Newcastle Consortium Supporters Limited who headed down the legal route last year with the Premier League.

You can read the full story here.

Takeover claim outlined

The club's legal claim against the Premier Legaue in their takeover dispute has been outlined by the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

It reads: "The Claimant alleges that the Defendant prevented, or hindered, the Proposed Takeover and knew that itsactions would prevent and/or delay the Proposed Takeover.

"The prevention and/or delay of the Proposed Takeover was liable to and did distort and/or restrict competition between PL clubs."

Mike Ashley, Yasir Al-Rumayyan and Amanda Staveley

HMRC - full story

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley says that "dark forces" in football are preventing the club from being a "power house".

The Magpies are awaiting the outcome of an arbitration battle with the Premier League but the picture on the takeover front is now clearer after the HMRC ended their investigation at the club over tax treatment of agents and players.

Mike Ashley prior to the Sports Direct International's annual general meeting (AGM) at their headquarters in Shirebrook, U.K., on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016

Indeed, deals like Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba had been invesitaged during an episode in which managing director Lee Charnley was held in custody after a raid at his home.

You can read the full story here.

Ashley statement

"After four years of the club being subjected to this investigation, I am pleased it has now been discontinued.

"It's now time for the dark forces that are preventing this football club from becoming the power house that the fans deserve, to step aside.”