Simon Cowell has taken a dig at One Direction’s Niall Horan, after he failed to reach number one with his debut solo single.

Horan’s ‘This Town’ is at number nine in this week’s singles chart, while James Arthur, who is signed to Cowell’s Syco label, is at number one with 'Say You Won't Let Go'.

Simon CowellSimon Cowell has taken a cheeky swipe at Niall Horan

Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Cowell said: “He probably would have had a No 1 single if he’d stayed with me.

“But you know who does have a No 1 this week? James Arthur . Very pleased he’s back with us with a fantastic record.”

Cowell then jokingly added: “Hashtag loyalty.”

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It’s not the first time Cowell has spoken out about ‘loyalty’ when it comes to members of One Direction’s solo careers.

Before Horan was revealed to have signed with Universal instead of Cowell’s label Syco, the music mogul praised the loyalty of all the boys, except Liam Payne, who had already signed a solo deal with Capitol Records.

"We're in touch with them. The great thing about all these boys - well not all of them but most of them - they are incredibly loyal and you don't always expect that. Niall, Harry, Louis - amazing,” he said in July.

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When Horan’s deal with Universal was announced last month, Cowell was said to have been waiting for the 23-year-old to sign with him.

“This will come as a real blow to Cowell who has been talking to Niall for months, wanting him to sign a deal with his label Syco,” a source told the Daily Star.

“He made a number of big money offers to try and persuade Niall to sign up but, in the end, Universal came in and put even more money on the table.”