March 12, 2009 / 1:06 PM / 9 years ago

Fans frustrated as Jackson extends UK run

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. pop star Michael Jackson has extended his run of comeback concerts in London to 50, starting on July 8 and ending on February 24, 2010, promoters said on Thursday.

U.S. pop star Michael Jackson gestures during a news conference at the O2 Arena in London in this recent photo from March 5, 2009. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

When the 50-year-old announced his plan to return to the stage last week, he committed to only 10 concerts at the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena.

Demand has been such that dozens of extra shows have been added, and now an estimated one million people will be able to see Jackson perform.

Hundreds of tickets have turned up on online auction sites like eBay amid criticism of the handling of the sales.

A pair of “VIP” tickets to the opening show are being offered on eBay for 16,000 pounds ($22,000), compared with the official face value of the tickets at between 50 and 75 pounds.

A technical hitch when tickets were first made available on Wednesday morning on the website meant many people were unable to log on and make purchases.

“We have witnessed an unprecedented level of demand for the Michael Jackson concerts at the O2,” said Chris Edmonds, managing director of Ticketmaster.

“Unfortunately due to a technical issue, we were unable to facilitate all immediate ticket requests. Apologies to those fans who were unable to log on, but fans should keep on trying to purchase tickets.”

Some fans reacted angrily to the glitches. Rich Diment told the Sun newspaper: “I’ve been a Michael Jackson fan all my life. It’s frustrating as well as a rip-off.”

Jackson has been a virtual recluse since his acquittal on child abuse charges in a 2005 trial. His last full set of live concerts was 12 years ago and he has not recorded an album of new music since “Invincible” in 2001.

But he is still the “King of Pop” to his legion of followers despite his sometimes bizarre behavior and appearance in recent years. He has sold around 750 million records, won 13 Grammys and is regarded as one of the biggest pop acts of all time.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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