Live Nation, the music company behind Download and O2 Wireless Festivals, have sensationally dismissed their managing director, Stuart Galbraith for conspiring with their biggest rivals.
The company chose to take the decision amid speculation that Galbraith was leading a defection of employees to direct rivals the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG). He was sacked with immediate effect for a “breach of contract” and reportedly given five minutes to leave the office.
Galbraith, who was also a key figure behind the Live 8 event at Hyde Park and the classic 1980's Monsters of Rock Festivals, is believed to have approached other Live Nation colleagues to join the rival group, who are trying to secure a major footing in the UK. AEG are the company which operates the O2 Arena at the old Millennium Dome – a venue which Galbraith himself recently dubbed "the best in Europe".
A Live Nation spokesman said: “We can confirm that due to breach of contract, Stuart Galbraith, Managing Director at Live Nation [UK] Music, has been dismissed with immediate effect.” Live Nation’s UK President, Paul Latham, is going to keep running the company.
A spokesperson for AEG said: “We have no knowledge of a plan for Stuart Galbraith to bring a Live Nation team to AEG.”
Widely credited for the success of the Download and O2 Wireless festivals, Galbraith has risen to become one of the most high profile festival bosses in the UK festival industry in recent years, famous for his hardline 'business tycoon' approach which is both respected and reviled in different quarters.
If he can weather the legal repercussions of this (and he's certainly a tough old dog), we would be very surprised not to see Stuart bounce back into another position of dominance in the live music scene in due course – perhaps at AEG.