Fans tell of anguish as tickets for SPOTY go in 35 minutes
Many fans were left disappointed yesterday as tickets for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony in Belfast sold out in record time.
Tickets for the extravaganza, which is due to take place on December 20 at the SSE Arena, were snapped up in just 35 minutes - the quickest the event has sold out since it first went on the road in 2006.
Thousands were eager to get their hands on tickets for SPOTY's first visit to Northern Ireland, but with only 5,500 available there were reports that the website crashed and phone lines were engaged.
Northern Ireland Women's Football team star Julie Nelson didn't get a ticket.
She said: "The SSE Arena website wasn't working for me from 9am until around 9.45am. Phone lines were constantly engaged. I tried to call over 30 times."
The 30-year-old for Larne added: "I'm disappointed as I was looking forward to going to it. It's something I've watched on TV for as long as I can remember. It's frustrating that tickets seemed almost impossible to access."
Michael Foster from Lisburn said: "It was a farce. I set an alarm for nine and was on the SSE Arena site just before. Then at nine on the dot the web page simply crashed.
"I wasn't aware that you could go directly to Ticketmaster as the SSE Arena didn't say so, nor did any other sites. I phoned SSE Arena 20 times in half hour. It was a complete joke - all SSE Arena needed to do was say Ticketmaster was the outlet and I'd have got the two tickets."
Other fans were lucky enough to secure a ticket for the event, but also complained about the website crashing.
Jonny Moore, from Ballymoney, got tickets for him and his girlfriend. He said: "The first time I logged in, the site crashed but I refreshed the page and got on straight away again. You watch it every year so it will be nice to be a part of it this year."
Risteard O'Hannaidh added: "Ticketmaster crashed on me initially, but next time I tried I got through straight away and got my tickets without any issues.
"I'm bringing my mother as a pre-Christmas treat. I'm really excited to be going to it. It will be great to celebrate a good year of UK and Irish sport."
Those lucky enough to get a ticket will see some of the UK's biggest stars gather as they wait to hear who has won the prestigious award.
The shortlist will be drawn up by a panel of sporting stars and journalists and it will then be put to a public vote.
Carl Doran, the show's executive editor, said: "We are delighted that tickets for Sports Personality of the Year 2015 in Belfast have sold out so quickly. It's testament to the appeal of the show and for those who got tickets or choose to watch on BBC One, it's going to be a great evening of entertainment."
SPOTY will be determined by a public vote on the night with a list of 10 contenders selected by a panel including:
Dame Mary Peters, Olympic pentathlon champion; Maggie Alphonsi, rugby player; Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Paralympian; Ian Wright, former footballer; Hazel Irvine, BBC sport presenter; Baroness Sue Campbell, chair of the Youth Sports Trust, SPOTY executive editor Carl Dornan and journalists including Cliff Hayes, Tim Hallissey, Ian Prior, Barbara Slater and Philip Bernie.