Castleford Tigers rise to grading challenge with IMG boost and fresh investor

CASTLEFORD have received a double boost to their hopes of remaining in Super League beyond 2024.

The RFL has admitted that their actual grading score is higher than that published in the recent indicative gradings, while new investor Martin Jepson has injected a seven-figure sum targeted at earning further points.

Super League participation from 2025 will be determined by the new grading system recommended by IMG, with only the top twelve clubs in the rankings playing in the top flight.

Castleford were ranked 13th in the indicative gradings released in October, but they immediately appealed believing they made an error in their data submission.

Six weeks later, the RFL rejected the appeal for their score to be reconsidered, on the basis that it “would be unfair to other clubs, several of whom have also sought unsuccessfully to have data submitted after the deadline considered”.

But they recognised that Castleford’s score would have been higher with the correct data used, increasing from 12.16 to 12.91 points, which would have placed them eleventh in the rankings.

“This gives us a great base to work from to push our score as high as we can in readiness for the 2025 gradings,” said the Tigers in a statement, with that aim further bolstered by their new investor.

Jepson, founder of Ergo Real Estate and a club sponsor in recent seasons after having been a lifelong Castleford fan, has become a 32 percent shareholder and joined the board of directors.

He has invested a “significant seven-figure sum” into the Tigers with a focus on the areas that will earn further grading points and secure their Super League status in 2025.

“The next twelve months’ focus has got to be on facilities and the ground and everything else around those ranking points in the licensing,” Jepson told BBC Radio Leeds.

“Yes, we want to have a good team but I’m not here to be spending big money on marquee players for the hell of it. The next twelve months is to deal with those ranking points.

“The big issue is the stadium redevelopment. That’s not in the club’s gift because planning consent has not yet been granted, but hopefully it will be and that’s looking more positive than it has done.

“There are a lot of building blocks starting to fall in place.”

Jepson explained why he chose to come on board: “I’m fortunate that I am able and in a position to invest and I think this is a real pivotal moment for the sport, and the club in particular. 

“I thought long and hard about it. I’ve been a sponsor for a few years, I got more and more wedded to the club and started coming back to more matches than I was before. 

“I just felt that the club needed some investment, the town needs the club to be in Super League, and I would regret it if I didn’t take the chance to help the club along the journey.”