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As 'moving to London' rumours surface in the Sun, is there any likely truth in the paper's claim?

The Sun have suggested Sunderland are actively looking to develop a training base in London to give the club an edge in attracting top talent. This isn't a new concept - it's one that's been discussed between groups of supporters for some time. And it's one worthy of debate - so we take a hefty pinch of salt and consider the newspaper's recent record in mongering gossip about our club.

Sunderland v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Matthew Ashton/Getty Images

Writing in today's Sun, the self-styled 'boss of goss', reporter Alan Nixon, has claimed Sunderland are looking into establishing a training base in London.

Nixon suggests chiefs at the Stadium of Light have been checking out potential sites in and around the capital to enable them to compete in attracting top foreign and London-based players.

The dearth of talent at Sunderland is certainly a troublesome one. The club have suffered from desperately poor player recruitment in recent years - the major factor behind the club's present financial strife and perpetual slump to the foot of the table.

With yet another battle against relegation underway, the hierarchy at the Stadium of Light would be at fault if they weren't embarking on a no-stone-unturned quest to arrest the club's modern day unrelenting state of crisis.

One reason suggested as part of the problem is the difficulty North East teams have in attracting players to the region compared with London and other areas of the country such as the North West.

General Views of UK Sporting Venues Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

This base-the-club-in-London idea is not a new one, but so far it's been confined to discussion on fan forums and social media. The theory behind the concept would be that players would only have to travel to Sunderland for home games and could base themselves in the sought-after South East.

And David Moyes is but the latest manager at Sunderland to suggest there are problems attracting top talent to Wearside. The Scot claimed in the recent transfer window that anyone he could attract to the Stadium of Light would not 'significantly improve the squad' and that the club would not be able to 'attract players of that level'.

Sunderland v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Indeed, when Moyes joined the club in the summer he made similar noises and suggested the faces he might be able to bring in would not be of the same calibre to those he had been used to at the likes of Manchester United and Everton.

There is a point in here somewhere and perhaps even a discussion to be had around the merits of operating the club as a multi-base outfit. Someone will do it someday and it's likely only a matter of time before a football team based in an 'unfashionable' area of the country trials basing part of its operation in London or the south.

But right now, the reason that Sunderland are unable to attract hoards of top talent is a simple one. Battling relegation each and every season is not much of a selling point to most footballers. And that's it - the rub of it. Simple.

However, there will always be footballers willing to take a risk on clubs like Sunderland to get a shot at the English Premier League - even the Championship if Moyes is unable to fashion a way of beating the drop this season. But, lingering around the foot of the table is no lure to the top players the club should have been attracting by now in its decade-long stint in the top-flight.

However, for a club which has spent the last six months talking up its desire to rebuild links with the local community, shifting base to the South East would be a desertion of those very roots; and that's not to mention the message it sends to a region which has spent generations having to fight for its place at the United Kingdom table as the country becomes ever more London-centric.

So, is there any truth in this story? Well, Alan Nixon and Sunderland have a little history and his current employers, the Sun, have certainly attracted some incredibly damaging attention in recent weeks. Liverpool announced the newspaper would no longer be welcome at Anfield a little over a week ago. The Murdoch-owned title claimed it was a 'sad day for football', but few tears will have been shed for the Merseyside outfit kicking a lump out of what has become a much-maligned title in recent years.

As for Nixon, he has attracted some wrath from Sunderland observers, fans and even a chairman in his ramblings about the club over the years. But in truth, his and the newspaper's record is more 50/50 than lamentable of late - so there may be an inkling of plausibility in the Sun's story yet.

It was back in 2011 when Niall Quinn was forced to rubbish Nixon's claims that then-striker Asamoah Gyan was being hawked around potential Premier League buyers by email. Even when the Sunderland chairman denied the story, the hack - who was then writing for the Mirror - insisted Quinn was hiding the truth, only to then vanish from sight once the player himself had insisted he really wasn't moving to Stoke City.

However, it was Nixon who recently announced the arrival of Simon Wilson from Manchester City as Sunderland's new Chief Football Officer before anyone else. And it was the same man who broke the news Under-23 coach, Andy Welsh, was wanted by Wigan - the club at which he is now first team coach.

And, it was Nixon's colleague, David Coverdale. who unearthed the 'Sunderland for sale' brochure that Ellis Short was advertising the club in late last year, and it was Coverdale who recently announced that Jimmy Sinclair was to join as new head of the academy before anyone else.

The pair's record in the transfer window just closed was pretty hit-and-miss. The Sun ran several stories claiming Lamine Kone was about to exit the Stadium of Light only for David Moyes to later confirm no bids had been received for the Ivorian centre-half in January. But, it was the Sun man who started the story that Sam Allardyce was after Patrick van Aanholt - a saga which ended with a £14m move for the Dutchman to Selhurst Park.

Perhaps the strangest Nixon-story in recent times was his claim in November that David Moyes had held secret talks with former Sunderland players to figure out exactly what was wrong with the club. Whatever the truth in that one, if such a meeting did take place the end result clearly didn't work.

There is a cloak of doubt and mystery which has forever shrouded the musings of the Sun - which remains Britains best selling daily newspaper. In truth, the truth is almost impossible to fathom. There are have long been suggestions that Nixon has built his career on actively colluding with agents to manipulate situations between players and clubs - though in reality that's pretty much how the media transfer gossip market works these days full-stop.

Whether there is basis to this latest apparently outlandish claim - that Sunderland are set to partially abandon the North East - the proof will be in the pudding. But, it would be an interesting poser to put to Martin Bain and David Moyes - the men behind the current onslaught about bringing the club back into touch with its community.

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