Soccer

Brian McFadden hopes he and Boyzone stars are all that Chorley need to reach EFL

Former Westlife member McFadden and Boyzone stars Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch attended Saturday’s FA Trophy tie.

Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch of Boyzone with Brian McFadden of Westlife ahead of the FA Trophy fifth round match at Victory Park, Chorley
Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch of Boyzone with Brian McFadden of Westlife ahead of the FA Trophy fifth round match at Victory Park, Chorley Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch of Boyzone with Brian McFadden of Westlife ahead of the FA Trophy fifth round match at Victory Park, Chorley (Nigel French/PA)

Brian McFadden wants Chorley fans to dream of the Football League after bringing some pop star glamour to Victory Park.

The former Westlife singer took his place in Chorley’s small VIP stand along with prospective fellow investors Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch from Boyzone for Saturday’s FA Trophy fifth-round tie against Solihull Moors.

Clad in Chorley shirts and clutching pints of beer, the trio were happy to sign autographs and take pictures for fans, with their presence the only topic of conversation around the ground.

Brian McFadden takes a picture with Chorley fans
Brian McFadden takes a picture with Chorley fans Brian McFadden takes a picture with Chorley fans (Nigel French/PA)

It has not yet been confirmed exactly what role McFadden, Lynch, Duffy and Boyzone lead singer Ronan Keating, who could not attend the match, will play at the club.

But McFadden revealed a deal is near, telling the PA news agency: “It’s pretty close. I’ve just been talking about coming to the next home game with my family so you’ll probably see quite a lot of us. We’re in.”

It was the Irish star’s first visit to Chorley, and he explained: “Shane’s business partner bought the club seven months ago and asked Shane to get involved.

“Shane’s not really a football man but he knew that me and Keith love football so he got us involved, and Ronan. We want to be part of something from the ground up.

“I’m a Manchester United fan myself, I’ve got season tickets at Old Trafford, but it’s a corporation. You look at something like Chorley Football Club and you see this belongs to the town, it belongs to the people, it belongs to the community.

“For us to be able to get involved in something at that level and to try and take it to the next level, there’s a bit of romance to it.”

Comparisons have inevitably been made with Wrexham and the takeover by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, which has attracted worldwide attention and seen the club climb up the leagues.

McFadden said: “What the boys have done at Wrexham is incredible but Wrexham’s the same. Wrexham’s always had a huge support, great stadium, great town. All it needed was a bit of extra love and care to help them do what they’re doing.

“We’re hoping we can do the same with Chorley. Look at this, this is non-league football and you’ve got a couple of thousand people out here having a great time, supporting the team. If we can help those supporters reach a higher dream and we can be a part of it, it’d be great.

“We’d love to see Chorley playing in the professional leagues, obviously. If we can get out of National North there’s National League and then in a few years, a bit of investment, bit of development, you never know. Maybe they get out of National League and into League Two and see what happens from there.”

Chorley are starting from a lower base than Wrexham, with the club currently sitting eighth in National League North.

A bumper crowd of more than 2,000 turned out for the cup game, but Chorley found National League high-fliers Solihull too strong, with the visitors winning 3-1.

Manager Andy Preece hopes the excitement generated this week can be maintained, saying: “Hopefully this is a sign of things going forward.

Brian McFadden reacts in the stand
Brian McFadden reacts in the stand Brian McFadden reacts in the stand (Nigel French/PA)

“With the Boyzone and Westlife boys coming in, obviously it’s given a renewed interest in the town and that’s massive for us. I’ve been here six years and it’s been tough, and we fight and fight every year just to keep things running and keep going, try and keep success on the field.

“We are having success, we’ve done unbelievably well with the resources we’ve had and now, hopefully, with them coming in and the interest it brings, we’ll be able to bring in more investment, and not just into the football club but into the town and into the community.

“You see the Wrexham thing and you go, ‘Oh wow, what would that be like?’ But I didn’t really think it was going to happen here. It’s exciting, I’m buzzing about it, everybody’s buzzing about it and we’ll just see where it takes us.”

Chorley went viral during an FA Cup run three years after signing Adele’s hit ‘Someone Like You’, so could there be a new song on the dressing room sound system?

“We’re going to have look through at all the songs because obviously the ones we really know are probably more lovey songs, but we did the Adele song,” said Preece. “We’ll see if we can sort one out. But all those things are exciting to talk about.”