Hundreds of fans who camped out overnight for Beyoncé tickets were left terrified, disappointed and ticketless after gangs of thugs hijacked the queue.
Police had to be called after trouble erupted outside Manchester Arena – prompting venue bosses to turn everyone away empty-handed from the box office.
Some fans had spent up to 24 hours queuing outside in chilly temperatures for the chance to see the American superstar when she performs three gigs in the city in May.
Tickets were due to go on sale at 9.30am on Saturday – but an announcement was made about ten minutes before that the box office would not be opening for health and safety reasons. Security guards told the crowds they feared people would rush towards the ticket desks and cause a crush.
Genuine fans who had waited for hours slammed the organisation of the event as diabolical – and claimed the problems were caused by ticket touts.
Witnesses described how young girls were left in tears as groups of men barged into the queue, intimidating them and throwing bottles. One teenage girl said it was the scariest night of her life.
They were verbally abusive, trying to bribe people to buy extra tickets for them, and some were even openly taking drugs, according to fans.
Sarah Miah, 25, from Bury, queued for 17 hours and said that the problems began about 10.30pm when the touts pushed into the queue – with stampedes throughout the night as they fought to get near the box office.
Sarah said: “I stayed in the tunnel outside the Arena to avoid being crushed when all hell broke loose at about 5am.
“Men were ripping open fire doors that were locked. Once opened, they fought to get through one side of a double door. Children were getting crushed and screaming. It was horrible. By far the worst night of my life.”
Dozens of fans also posted of their anger on Twitter. One wrote: “Hundreds of Beyonce fans crushed and camped out. Turned away due to health and safety. Was no organisation. Appalling.”
A spokesman for Manchester Arena said: “Since the Beyonce dates were announced two weeks ago we strongly advised all customers not to travel to the venue box office as tickets could not be guaranteed due to the anticipated high demand.
“Unfortunately, when we opened our doors at 5.30am what had been an orderly queue immediately stormed the box office windows causing a potential crush.
“Despite the best efforts of our stewards and security staff we had to involve British Transport Police in an attempt to restore order. Even then the safety of genuine fans could not be guaranteed and, following police advice, the box office remained closed.
“This information was communicated via our PA system and customers were redirected to the official website and phone lines for tickets.”
The US singer – who thrilled millions with her spectacular performance at the Super Bowl earlier this month – is visiting Manchester on May 7, 8 and 9 as part of her world tour.
All general release tickets for her 11-date UK arena tour, starting in Birmingham on April 26, sold out within 12 minutes.
Ticketmaster crashed as fans bombarded the site in the hope of snapping up the seats.
But some tickets quickly appeared on the online auction site eBay for hundreds of pounds over their face value. The seats, which originally cost £60-£90, were on offer for up to £1,000 a pair.