Westlife have splashed out €25,000 to buy a rare collection of the band's memorabilia -- and it will all mean a financial bonanza for Sligo Rovers.Band member, Shane Filan, confirmed to THE SLIGO CHAMPION that the four Westlife members had agreed over the week-end to make an offer for the collection and they were delighted that a deal had been finalised.
"We first saw the collection five years ago and were very impressed by it. When we heard it was going up for auction, we decided to make an offer and the fact that the money is going to Sligo Rovers is an added bonus. It's a win-win situation for everybody and we're thrilled to have the collection.
"When I heard the memorabilia was going to be auctioned, I contacted the other lads in the band and we were all 100% agreed that we should make an offer.
"Our view was that it was better for the collection to end up with Westlife than anywhere else. We can now put it together with all the other memorabilia we have ourselves so that the complete collection will be in safe keeping. It's hard to put a price on these things but it is of great sentimental value for us", said Shane.
The collection represents ten years of dedicated work for local collector, Gavin Walsh, who assembled the rare memorabilia through a network of over 6,000 collectors from all over the world. Mr. Walsh donated the collection to Sligo Rovers Financial Support Group and they in turn negotiated the sale to Westlife.
"Fair play to Gavin for donating the collection to help Rovers", said Shane. "He put in a huge amount of effort assembling the memorabilia and it was a terrific gesture on his part to pass it on to Rovers"
The extensive collection includes rare posters and promotional material from Westlife's early world-wide tours.
A well-known collector of music memorabilia, Mr. Walsh has no interest in football but was anxious that a local cause should benefit from his collection.
"I have no interest in soccer but I know what Sligo Rovers mean to the town and the local community and that's why I donated the collection to them. I'm delighted that they have reached agreement with Westlife to buy the memorabilia. I don't think the collection could find a better home", said Mr. Walsh.
He explained that he had assembled the collection out of a sense of civic pride.
"Westlife are the best thing to ever come out of Sligo and as a music collector, I felt I had an obligation to get as much of their material as possible.
"It was a labour of love putting it all together over the years and I will feel some sense of loss now that I've let it go. But it has gone to a very appropriate home and will benefit Sligo Rovers into the bargain", he said.
Westlife's Shane will attend Rovers FAI Cup Silver Jubilee function in the Radisson Hotel on Sunday evening when the official hand over of the collection will take place.
RTE's Northern editor, Tommie Gorman, and sports broadcaster, Adrian Eames, will be MCs on the night and the evening's schedule will include footage of the epic 1983 semi-final game against Cobh Ramblers, the final against Bohemians and the memorable homecoming celebrations.
Tickets, costing €60, are available from Caheny's Bar, EJs and Fiddler's Creek.
- Leo GraySource:Sligo Champion