Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis has denied rumours in the tabloid press that headliner Jay-Z is to pull out of this year's event.

The Sun newspaper's Bizarre gossip column had claimed the New York rap star was to withdraw from the festival and quoted an 'inside source' as saying the 37-year-old was unhappy at being blamed for relatively slow ticket sales.

But Eavis - who has run the Somerset festival for more than 30 years - has called the tabloid's report "malicious", "nasty" and "totally unfounded".

Speaking to XFM, he said: "The Sun was carrying a story that he [Jay-Z] was pulling out.

"I'm not sure where they got that from, probably from the people that were doing a show in London the following week [The O2 Wireless Festival] because they were trying to sell tickets for their show.

"That didn't come from the Americans [Jay-Z's management] at all because we checked with them on Sunday and the Americans confirmed with me on Sunday they were definitely doing it [the festival]."

While tickets for the legendary festival have sold out in hours in recent years, Eavis and his team have reopened the registration process for this year's event after more than 30,000 of the 137,500 tickets available remained unsold by Sunday afternoon.

Eavis has strenuously denied any rumours that Jay-Z's headlining of the Pyramid Stage on the Friday night is the cause of diminished interest and has blamed poor weather in recent years for the comparatively slow sales.

He added: "This year our main competitors, your Vs, Reading and Leeds and T In The Park, went on sale before us so they had first bite of the cherry.

"For the last 38 years we've been selling out over a period of months which is much more sensible."

09/04/2008 09:40:22