£78 for free Belfast MTV gig tickets
Snow Patrol fans miss out as online sellers cash in
Free tickets for a concert being staged during the MTV European Music Awards were being touted for up to £78 through online auction sites last night, just hours after they were handed out.
Thousands of music fans were left disappointed as 15,000 tickets for the free concert were snapped up within an hour.
An estimated 5,000 hopeful young people camped overnight outside Belfast's Welcome Centre on Saturday in a bid to get tickets for the big outdoor concert at Belfast City Hall on November 6.
Featuring chart-toppers Snow Patrol, led by Gary Lightbody (right), Jason Derulo - currently number seven in the album charts - and Boyce Avenue, the free concert is being staged to coincide with the MTV Awards at the Odyssey Arena.
The free tickets, released at 8am yesterday, were available on a first-come, first-served basis with a maximum of four per person.
But many people were snapping up their full allocation and then auctioning off tickets or selling them for up to £78 on the internet yesterday.
Welcome Centre staff were overwhelmed by the huge turnout of fans who formed a queue that snaked along Donegall Place and round into Fountain Street.
Some hardcore fans queued from 5pm on Saturday for the event, pitching tents along the footpath.
One fan, Roisin Bradley, described a "stampede", with inadequate staff to marshal the crowd.
"We weren't going to queue until 5am but Twitter was going mad saying the queue had started so we went into town at 11pm," said the 24-year-old.
"I went with my sister and some friends. We queued all night outside the Disney Store but the queue wound all the way round into Castle Street and up to Waterstones. For most of the night there was great camaraderie."
But when events staff called for the tents to be packed up at 6am, it started a "stampede" as people thought the doors were going to open. "From what I could see there were only about four security staff controlling the entire queue," Roisin said.
"When the stampede started it was a bit scary. People were getting crushed. I saw one girl being dragged out from underfoot."
Snow Patrol fan Vanessa Ferguson from east Belfast had planned to queue, but when she heard of the crowds decided to stay away.
"It is disappointing not to get to the gig, but friends who queued from 5am walked away realising they hadn't a chance," she said.
Many others attempting to get tickets by phone or online were also left empty-handed. The gotobelfast.com website was overwhelmed by demand.
Belfast City Council said selling on free tickets is "illegal".
Story so far
The MTV European Music Awards are a major coup for Belfast and one of the highest-profile music events Northern Ireland has ever staged. Belfast City Hall is staging a free concert on the same night and the 15,000 free tickets were quickly snapped up. A city council spokeswoman said there will be another chance to apply for tickets to see the other two MTV shows.