If you see this man beside you in the football stands, call the police

Lester Woodward, who touted tickets for Everton matches, has been banned from every football ground in the UK
Lester Woodward, who touted tickets for Everton matches, has been banned from every football ground in the UK (Pictures: Everton/Merseyside Police)

A man has been banned from every football ground in the UK for three yearsafter touting tickets.

Lester Woodard illegally sold 468 tickets for the first 13 Everton matches of the 2023/24 season, a Merseyside Police investigation found.

The 43-year-old, of Baldock, Hertfordshire, appeared at Sefton Magistrates Court on July 4, where he was given the banning order, along with a £400 fine.

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.

Chief Inspector Iain Wyke of Merseyside Police 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.’

Woodard could be sent to prison if he breaks his ban
Woodard could be sent to prison if he breaks his ban (Picture: Merseyside Police)

He said police would continue to target touts operating online and on match days, working closely with supporters and clubs to identify offenders.

‘Our advice to football supporters is clear: don’t buy from ticket touts,’ he added.

‘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 runs 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’, said police.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 11: A general view of Goodison Park before the Premier League match between Everton FC and Sheffield United at Goodison Park on May 11, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)
Police said people like Woodard ‘exploit the passion fans have for Everton’ (Picture: Everton FC)
Everton fans have their tickets scanned before entering Goodison Park
Everton fans have their tickets scanned before entering Goodison Park (Picture: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Dave Lewis, Everton’s head of security and stadium safety officer, added: ‘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 games, pass information via @MerPolCC, 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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