Simon Cowell: ‘One Direction’s Niall would have charted higher if he’d stayed with me’

Horan's debut solo single has cracked the Top 10, but Cowell's label has this week's Number One single

Simon Cowell has suggested One Direction‘s Niall Horan would have charted higher with his debut single if he had remained with the X Factor mogul’s record label Syco.

It has recently been reported that Horan “snubbed” Cowell to sign a deal with rival label Universal.

He dropped his first solo track ‘This Town’ on September 29 and saw it enter the charts at Number Nine on Friday (October 7) – eight places behind former X Factor champion James Arthur, who has recently re-signed to Cowell’s label and scored a comeback Number One hit.

“He probably would have had a Number One single if he’d stayed with me,” Cowell told the Sunday Mirror. “But you know who does have a Number One this week? James Arthur. Very pleased he’s back with us with a fantastic record.”

Cowell then added jokingly, in an apparent dig at Horan: “Hashtag loyalty.”

After he and Nicole Scherzinger formed One Direction on The X Factor in 2010, Cowell signed the five-piece to his label Syco and oversaw their careers as they became global chart-toppers. However, the group – reduced to a four-piece since Zayn Malik left in March 2015 – is now “on hiatus” and Cowell does not seem to be helping to launch any of their solo careers.

Cowell said of the band members last month: “Look, I’m not going to lie when I hear they’re doing something, and they haven’t approached me. You think, ‘Well I would have liked you to,’ but it’s their choice. I’m not bitter – much.”