Face of man who isn't allowed in any football ground in the country

Lester Woodard, 43, of Westell Close, Baldock
-Credit: (Image: Lester Woodard, 43, of Westell Close, Baldock)

A man has been given a three-year football ban after touting hundreds of Everton match tickets.

Lester Woodard, of Westell Close, Baldock, illegally sold 468 tickets for the first 13 Everton matches of the 2023/24 season. The 43-year-old appeared at Sefton Magistrates Court on Thursday, July 4, where he was given the banning order, along with a £400 fine.

This means he is forbidden from entering any football grounds in the UK for three years. If he fails to comply with the conditions of the order, he could be sent to prison for six months or fined for each offence.

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Merseyside Police superintendent Chris Barnes said: “We take action such as this to protect genuine fans looking to purchase tickets to support their team at face value through authorised sellers. People like Woodard exploit the passion fans have for their club to line their own pockets.

“We believe the majority of ticket touts target visitors to the city who have little or no experience of purchasing tickets, so may not be aware that the prices they are paying are vastly inflated or that the way they have been sold is illegal.

"Our activities to target touts operating both online and on match days will continue next season, working closely with supporters and clubs to keep identifying ticket touts and doing all we can to prevent them taking advantage of supporters and spoiling people's experience of football and the city.

“Our advice to football supporters is clear: don't buy from ticket touts. You will be taking a huge risk with a lot of money and may ultimately be refused entry to the match with no way of getting your money back.”

Everton already employs a series of measures both ahead of fixtures and on matchday to protect supporters from touting. This includes updates within pre-match communication, online ticket exchange platforms, fan meetings between Merseyside Police representatives and fan groups as well as signage around Goodison Park all with the aim of informing fans and visitors of the risks of purchasing tickets from unofficial sources.

The club operates an official resale platform which enables Season Ticket Members who cannot attend a Goodison Park fixture the opportunity to lawfully sell their ticket in a safe, secure and reliable online environment to fellow Evertonians. Season ticket members also have the functionality on their ticketing account to digitally transfer their ticket with a family member or friend should they not be able to attend a home game.

Dave Lewis, Everton’s head of security and stadium safety officer, said: “As this conviction proves, we are committed to working alongside Merseyside Police and the authorities to eradicate ticking touting from our football club.

"We will not tolerate any form of touting and will continue to identify offenders and take the appropriate legal action through the courts. Touting not only impacts the genuine supporters, especially if the tickets they purchase or receive are counterfeit, but it could also be feeding into further criminal activity and therefore have a significant number of other victims.

“This season marks our last season at Goodison Park and the demand for tickets will never have been higher. I would urge all supporters or visitors to only purchase or accept tickets from official sources.”

You can report any information to officers at the game, pass information via @MerPolCC, 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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