Norman Giller, from Sports Journalists, has reported that Associated Newspapers – home of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday among other newspapers – is on the verge of releasing a new Sunday red-top tabloid.

This has been rumored ever since the News of the World was killed two weeks ago. But Giller hits on an interesting development, quoting his ‘moles’ as saying the new publication will be based on the Daily Mail’s hugely popular website, which is now the second most popular English news site in the world.

He said that the new publication would be largely celebrity-led, with “sport playing a huge role”. And Kelvin MacKenzie, who recently left News International’s The Sun newspaper to join the Daily Mail, is thought to be a leading candidate to front what will simply be known as ‘Sunday’. Giller says:

“My moles (that is, people who have willingly spoken to me – with not a single hacked voicemail message involved, I can assure you) tell me a team has been working around the clock in a closed room at Derry Street on a dummy based on their enormously popular website (50 million worldwide unique users can’t be wrong…). There were even whispers of a test run for the paper this weekend.”

As we reported on Tuesday, whilst Murdoch’s News International is likely to look at launching a new Sunday newspaper at some point, it has put those plans on the back-burner until the dust settles around the news group. “It’s not our priority”, said Murdoch at Tuesday’s questioning by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Given that the dust isn’t likely to settle for some time, Giller’s claims that Associated Newspapers is considering launching a new Sunday paper – to fill the void left by the News of the World – may not be too far off the mark. Indeed, it seems to make a lot of sense. But how a print-based newspaper would follow in the footsteps of an online publication remains to be seen.

The Sunday Mirror’s readership shot up by 700,000 since the News of the World’s downfall. The freeing up of some 2m+ weekly readers means a huge gap has appeared in the market.

Whether a test run happens as soon as this weekend as Giller reports isn’ t yet clear, but it’s almost certain that a new Sunday tabloid will be launched by someone at some point. And it makes sense that the Mail Group would look to capitalize on its burgeoning online readership with an offline equivalent.