One Direction fans' joy as boys show up for Belfast gig but now Giants faithful cry foul
Storm over cancelled One Direction concert rages after Giants' match postponed and venue chiefs rapped over souvenir sales
Ice hockey fans are furious after a game involving Belfast Giants was put on ice to make way for a rescheduled One Direction concert.
Thousands of One Direction fans were left inconsolable when the popular four-piece called off a gig on Tuesday night just minutes before it was due to begin, after singer Liam Payne fell ill.
Nearly 10,000 devastated fans booed and screamed as staff instructed them to leave the SSE Arena after the unexpected announcement.
Families with children as young as two or three, and youngsters in shorts and T-shirts, stood crying in the rain after paying hundreds of pounds for tickets, not to mention their expenditure inside the arena.
Yesterday, it was announced that the rescheduled show will now take place on Friday, in place of the Elite League game "as no other date options were available", organisers said.
Refunds are available for those unable to attend the rescheduled show.
"The Giants will offer fans who have purchased tickets for Friday's game a full refund or use of their tickets for the re-scheduled game - details to follow," they said in a statement.
But the move has angered ice hockey team Sheffield Steelers, who hit out at the "unacceptable" late postponement of their fixture with Belfast Giants.
The South Yorkshire ice hockey team were due to face the Giants in back-to-back games in Belfast, with the club as well as the supporters now facing the prospect of being left out of pocket.
Steelers owner Tony Smith said: "This is unacceptable and not the end of the matter."
Aiken PR said the two other On The Road Again tour concerts would go ahead as planned.
"Once again we apologise for the cancellation of Tuesday night's One Direction show," the PR company said.
"We thank everyone for their understanding and their good wishes to Liam.
"Tuesday's concert has been rescheduled for this Friday, October 23. All tickets from last night's postponed concert will be valid for Friday.
"For anyone not able to attend the rescheduled show on Friday, please contact point of purchase for detail of how to obtain a refund."
Yesterday, Payne tweeted: "I'm so sorry to everybody I disappointed last night. I'm feeling better now. I really hope everyone can make the rescheduled date on Friday."
He added: "I really can't wait to perform and make it up to everyone later."
Meanwhile, the SSE Arena denied claims that it continued to sell expensive merchandise to One Direction fans despite knowing that the concert would not be going ahead beforehand.
It said the stands remained open following the official announcement of the cancellation merely to accommodate fans requesting refunds as they exited the arena.
And it denied that people had been unable to get their money back on items bought before the cancellation, claiming that refunds on merchandise are still being handed out to customers.
One father, who described himself as "working class", said his teenage daughter spent "£50 in 10 minutes on a T-shirt, a cup and a small keyring with One Direction on them."
"We were only made aware of Liam's illness just before the band was due to perform and we proceeded as normal until that time," a spokeswoman for the arena said.
"The merchandise stands remained open for a period following the announcement to accommodate any fans requesting refunds as they exited the arena.
"Refunds on merchandise have been, and continue to be, granted to all customers who request it and can produce the item of merchandise purchased."
The unlucky Aiken Promotions spokesman who announced the cancellation on stage at the concert - but asked not to be named - said he told a colleague he was "about to become the most hated man in Northern Ireland".
"That's what it felt like - and that's what you would have expected," he said. "But there was a degree of sympathy for me too. Who wants to be the spoiler?"
Meanwhile, TV presenter Eamonn Holmes is at the centre of a spat involving 'Directioners' after tweeting: "I don't care who was sick in One Direction. Rest of them should have had the decency & maturity to appear on stage and explain."
One disgruntled supporter tweeted back to Holmes: "Maybe you should have the decency and maturity to back off when it's clear you know nothing like everyone else."
After seeing the fans' reaction, Holmes added: "For all of you who can't read, I didn't ask for #OneDirection to Sing , I asked for them to Apologise in person to fans who turned up."
He then replied to another tweet saying: "It's just a question of taking responsibility and being respectful. That's all." One fan questioned it all, asking: "Remember when Howard from Take That broke his ribs and the rest of them went on without him?! Take note #onedirectionbelfast."
Another wrote: "Not to be selfish but I flew home from uni for this, so kinda hoping for the best tomorrow.. #onedirectionbelfast #GetWellSoonLiam."
Referring to the scores of heartbroken teens, one fan commented: "I've never heard so many hearts break at one time #onedirectionBelfast."