Sheffield Steelers have hit out at the “unacceptable” late postponement of their fixture with Belfast Giants at the SSE Arena tomorrow night to make way for a One Direction concert.
It was announced on Wednesday the Elite League game would not be going ahead. A rescheduled One Direction concert, which was cancelled on Tuesday after singer Liam Payne fell ill, will now be held in its place.
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.”
The chart-topping band – Niall Horan, Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson – have apologised to their fans.
Tonight and tomorrow’s shows are going ahead as planned.
Payne wrote on Twitter: “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.
“Thank you so much for all the trends and lovely messages you guys did for me it really shows how amazing u guys actually are.”
The 22-year-old singer added: “As I said I’m feeling much better now and I really can’t wait to perform and make it up to everyone later.”
The SSE Arena’s general manager Neil Walker said: “Having assessed all possible options, we can confirm that the cancelled One Direction concert from last night will go ahead this coming Friday night at The SSE Arena, Belfast.
“Unfortunately, that means we have to move a scheduled Belfast Giants game versus Sheffield Steelers to another date. We are extremely grateful to the Belfast Giants and Sheffield teams and apologise to their fans for the inconvenience caused - we are very grateful to them for their understanding and accommodation of the nearly 10,000 young concert fans who were so devastated by the cancellation last night.
“We apologise again for the inconvenience caused last night and reassure fans that The SSE Arena, Belfast was only made aware of Liam’s illness just before the band was due to perform.”
Tickets for the cancelled performance will be valid on Friday, with refunds available for those unable to attend the rescheduled show.
However, Steelers are not happy about the arrangement.
Operations director Shaun Smith said: “We are disappointed the game isn’t proceeding not only for ourselves but for the many fans who have already booked their travel, hotel and game-night tickets. We certainly aren’t happy with the late postponement.
“We appreciate as well as anyone when things out of your control can sometimes happen that cause games to be cancelled. We believe this is a commercial decision taken by the arena in Belfast that will certainly inconvenience, disrupt and hurt financially both the club and our supporters. We await further communication with Belfast in due course.”