Sony using 'dirty tricks' to ensure Harry Styles' new single As It Was won the charts battle against Britain's Eurovision hero Sam Ryder
- Sony pushed physical CD's as they register more points to achieve the No 1 spot
- Harry Styles, 28, notched up his seventh week at No 1 – with Sam Ryder at No 2
- The hand- numbered CDs released on May 13, the first day of the chart week
- Eurovision star Sam overtook Harry in the midweek charts so was on track to win
Industry sources say Sony was determined to have the former One Direction star's track, As It Was, in top spot as his new album Harry's House was released this weekend.
To help drive sales, the company released limited-edition hand- numbered CDs on May 13, the first day of the chart week which runs from Friday to Friday.
Just as Styles' website began distributing the limited records for £2.49 – 70p more than a standard CD – excitement about Ryder's track Spaceman and its prospects of winning Eurovision the following day was growing.
Critics suggest that Sony calculated that because physical CD sales register more points towards achieving the No 1 spot than the purchase of a stream, they could secure victory by promoting the hand-numbered CDs.
Harry Styles signed with Sony in 2016 after One Direction announced their hiatus (pictured) Performing on NBC's 'Today' at New York's Rockefeller Plaza this month
Whatever the strategy, Sony achieved success on Friday as Styles, 28, notched up his seventh week at No 1 – with Ryder at No 2.
Sources close to Sony last night pointed out that the hand-numbered CDs were available to pre-order before May 13 and insisted it was always part of Styles' carefully managed campaign.
No rules were broken and the insider scoffed at suggestions that it was a deliberate strategy to scupper Ryder's No 1 hopes.
But another industry source said: 'Sam was doing so well and actually overtook Harry in the midweeks, but the chatter is that Sony decided to make sure that Harry was home and dry by releasing the hand- numbered CDs.
'CDs count more than streams so having numbered ones made it all much more appealing for his fans.
Eurovision star Sam Ryder who came second in the competition overtook Harry in the midweek charts, but Sony decided to make sure that Harry got the No1 spot by pushing the limited edition hand- numbered CDs to fans (pictured) Rehearsing his song 'Space Man' for Eurovision earlier this month in Turin, Italy
Sam made Eurovision history as he scored the most points Great Britain has had in decades
'Sam was at a disadvantage because people didn't really start looking for him properly until Saturday, a day after the chart week began.' Styles' continued stay at No 1 in the singles chart came as his first album in five years was released amid fanfare in New York, and The Sunday Times Rich List revealed he is the wealthiest UK musician under the age of 30, with a fortune of £100 million – up £25 million in the past year.
Ryder, 32, who was hailed for coming second in the Eurovision song contest final – the UK's highest finish since 1997 – played down his rivalry with Styles. He said: 'I feel like what Harry stands for, as a fan of his and listening to his music. He stands for the same things that Eurovision celebrates – a freedom of expression, of inclusivity.'