LOUIS Walsh has signed an amazing €1.5 million-deal to get him back on X-Factor.
The contract ends months of speculation about whether or not he would return and follows protracted behind-the-scenes negotiations between the pop mogul and show boss and fellow judge, Simon Cowell.
In January, Ireland on Sunday revealed a deal was on the table but it’s only now finally been signed – adding yet another bulging pay packet to the 52-year-old’s multi-million Euro fortune.
Although bed-ridden with flu, he said last night: “I have signed for £1 million to do X-Factor and I’m very, very happy with the deal.
“It’s a great show, I love doing it and I’m delighted to be back on board. I’m also looking forward to championing yet more great – and hopefully Irish – talent.”
And he brushed off rumours his co-judge Sharon Osbourne has signed for more cash than him, which was reputedly one of the main stumbling blocks behind his reluctance to return to the show.
He said: “I don’t know if Sharon is getting paid more than me. To be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me if she is but I really couldn’t care less.
“”Even if I eventually find out she is getting more money, I won’t be kicking up a fuss. I am more than looked after in the deal I’ve signed.
“I don’t want to go into the reasons why it has taken so long to sign a deal but it has nothing to do with the size of other people’s pay packets.”
A show insider added: “X-Factor really wouldn’t be the same without Louis. He is brilliant on the show and a real hit with viewers.
“It’s very hard to imagine who could replace him and everyone is relieved the deal has finally been signed and we can all now concentrate on the show.”
The deal means that Walsh will now take his place alongside Osbourne and Cowell on the judging panel for the next run of the show – which starts on May 29.
He quit last year’s show – the second so far – in reaction to a string of on and off-air verbal attacks against him by both Osbourne and Cowell.
There were also reports of behind-the-scenes rows about anything from suggestions that Osbourne was being paid double what Walsh was earning for being on the show to the size of his dressing room – reportedly the smallest of the three allocated to the judges.
Walsh was also publicly criticised for his support for the Conway Sisters after our sister title Ireland on Sunday revealed Walsh had not only known the band “socially” for years but also had them perform support at Westlife concerts.
Walsh was eventually persuaded to return by X-Factor bosses and he saw the show out to the end and in time to see his act – Shayne Ward – win.
Ward – who Walsh says will be “bigger than Robbie Williams” – went on to top the UK charts with his debut single, That’s My Goal.
The fastest-selling downloaded single in the UK ever, it has already sold more than 120,000 copies. It’s a feat Walsh will be hoping Ward can better with his latest single, No Promises.