Ozzy Osbourne’s plan to take his final world tour to London may be jeopardised by a legal dispute with the O2 Arena’s operator.
The artist is suing Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) over what he claims is “blatant, anti-competitive conduct” that stops him from playing at its rival’s venue in Los Angeles if he visits the London arena.
The former Black Sabbath frontman, 69, sued AEG in California on 21 March in a bid to get a judge to prevent the US firm, which owns venues across the world, imposing the rule.
Osbourne has billed the No More Tours 2 concert as his last world tour, saying he wants to spend more time with his family.
The lawsuit claims AEG insists musicians must play at the Staples Centre in LA rather than The Forum, owned by The Madison Square Garden Company, if the tour goes through both cities.
The singer’s wife and manager, Sharon Osbourne, last month emailed Jay Marciano, the chief executive of AEG Presents, to complain over what they say is called the “Staples Centre Commitment”.
“Shame on AEG for bringing artists into a power struggle that you’re having with your competitor, (Osbourne’s promoter) Live Nation,” she wrote. “I can assure you that Live Nation would never strong-arm an artist into playing a venue they’re not comfortable performing in.”
The lawsuit claims Mr Marciano wrote back saying the dispute is between the two LA venues and does not involve Live Nation. He apparently signed off: “PS – The other guys started this first!”
In the lawsuit, Osbourne’s lawyer, Daniel Wall, writes: “As events transpired here, the AEG defendants did not relent in response to Sharon Osbourne’s objections, and continued to insist that Ozzy would not be allowed to perform at London’s O2 Arena unless he also agreed to perform at Staples in Los Angeles.
“For a major artist such as Ozzy, there is simply no substitute for the O2 Arena when booking the London leg of an international tour.”
Osbourne directed Live Nation to sign the commitment with AEG on Tuesday, but is understood to have done so in order to launch the legal action.
Mr Marciano, chief executive of AEG Presents, said the firm will “vigorously fight” the lawsuit which is “without merit”.
“We welcome a closer look at the global live entertainment market and, specifically, our practices and the practices of our competition. AEG has always worked hard to put artists first,” he said in a statement.
“At the same time, we must respond to the actions of those we compete with, specifically Live Nation and Madison Square Garden. Fighting for a level playing field is fair competition at its core.”
The 20,000 capacity O2 Arena in Greenwich is owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and operated by AEG, which also operates the smaller Wembley Arena. (Press Association)