The organisers of the Reading and Leeds festivals expand their empire...

In a radical move, MICHAEL EAVIS has handed over a substantial stake in this year’s GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL to MEAN FIDDLER, the group behind the READING FESTIVAL.

Mean Fiddler will take a 20% stake of Glastonbury 2002 and will also take over operational management of the festival. The move has just been announced to the London Stock Exchange where Mean Fiddler are listed. Mean Fiddler will take 20% of the net profits from the festival in exchange for their expertise.

Melvin Benn, Mean Fiddler Managing Director, said he was glad to “play a role in assuring [Glastonbury’s] future.” Michael Eavis said he thought the link up would “take Glastonbury into the next decade.” Melvin Benn is understood to already be working on this year’s festival, bringing in his technical know-how.

The long-term effects of the move are unclear. Mean Fiddler, who also own a host of live venues throughout London – including the Astoria and Kentish Town Forum – have a history tied to both Irish-tinged events, such as The Fleadh, and the much rockier Reading and Leeds Festivals.

Mean Fiddler supremo Vince Power toldNME.COM in November that the group had “a long-term future of acquisition and expansion”. He added that they planned to buy “a couple of places not in London”. Speculation has surrounded Michael Eavis’ ongoing involvement with the festival he started in 1971. He has frequently hinted an intention to hand over the reins to his daughter.

Meanwhile, NME.COM can reveal tickets for Glastonbury 2002, which runs from June 28-30, will cost £100 and will go on sale a week on Friday (February 22). The Glastonbury Festival ticketline, which is set to go live on Friday, is 01159 129129.

The actual face price of each ticket is £97 plus booking fee, post and packing, but does include the cost of a programme for the event which can be collected on site.

Michael Eavis also revealed that the line-up for this year’s festival would be announced – but only when all tickets had sold out, which usually happens early June.

At the moment, bands tipped to appear include Gorillaz, Blur, Coldplay, Pulp, Stereophonics, Basement Jaxx, Strokes, Radioheadand Starsailor.

He explained: “Every single band that we want are lining up. I would say we’ve got a wonderful line-up. But we’re not announcing anything for a long time, not until we’re sold out. But it doesn’t take much imagination to guess who’s going!”