Protests expected outside Sports Personality of the Year ceremony in Belfast

Tyson Fury holds his belts during a homecoming event at the Macron Stadium, Bolton
Tyson Fury holds his belts during a homecoming event at the Macron Stadium, Bolton

Twelve of the biggest names in sport will go head to head for the coveted BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 award, which will be revealed during a live show in Belfast tonight.

Some 7,500 people are expected to pack into the SSE Arena for the star-studded ceremony.

This is the first time the awards ceremony - hosted by Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan - has been hosted in Ulster.

Protests are expected to be held outside the event by gay rights groups after it was confirmed Tyson Fury - who has been nominated for an award - will be attending the event.

His inclusion on the shortlist has sparked a major outcry.

Controversial comments he made allegedly equating homosexuality with paedophilia, joking about being violent to women, and saying a woman’s “best place is on her back” have prompted gay and equal rights campaigners to mount protests outside the SSE Arena ahead of the main event.

Among the favourites to take the title are tennis star Andy Murray, 28, who helped make history by guiding Great Britain to their first Davis Cup victory for almost 80 years, and heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, 29, who won her second world title in Beijing in August, just months after giving birth.

Others in the running include “king of the long jump” Greg Rutherford, who took gold at the World Championships, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, world road race cycling champion Lizzie Armitstead and runner Mo Farah, who also enjoyed success in Beijing, winning his third successive 5,000m world gold medal.

Last year the ceremony took place in Glasgow, when Hamilton took the crown, with golfer Rory McIlroy in second place and athlete Jo Pavey in third.