Castleford Tigers investor Martin Jepson promises higher salary spend and brighter on-field future

Aaron Bower

This is part two of Love Rugby League’s exclusive interview with new Castleford Tigers investor and board member, Martin Jepson. 

Part one can be viewed here – covering his predictions for the IMG grading system, what total Castleford could end up on: and more detail on the plans for the redevelopment of Wheldon Road.

This is part two, discussing their plans for recruitment this year and next, their salary cap spend – and the financial future of the club..

It is safe to say this has not been the year any Castleford Tigers fan had hoped on the field. Languishing at the lower end of Super League with just 2 wins to their name in 2024, it looks set to be another season of struggle in 2024.

But Jepson is determined to not only see the positives amidst such struggles, but also ensure a repeat does not materialise in the years ahead. One of the areas he envisages the club will improve upon next year is their salary cap spend – but only if the right targets are available.

Castleford are one of Super League’s lowest spenders this year when it comes player salaries, but he has warned they will be as competitive as required in the transfer market. “That’s the debate we’re having now, about the salary cap spend,” he tells Love Rugby League.

“I’d expect us to spend more than we do now but in many ways it depends on what players are available. We’re not shy on spending it if it’s for the right players. Last year as part of the due diligence I did and based on what I saw, we spent the cap and look what we got out of it.

“Just spending it isn’t the right thing to do. One thing we’re keen on doing is making the culture right going forwards; we want some senior pros to help where we are and get performances going – but they’ve got to be right for us.”

Castleford’s recruitment drive for 2025 will focus heavily on one area: experience. A young Tigers squad have already suffered countless bruising experiences this year, but Jepson insists they will be stronger for that next year.

“Yes, we went with a young squad this year and maybe with hindsight, it was too young,” he admits.

“But at the end of this year, those players will have 30 Super League games under their belt. They’re building experience and it’s been notable this year that we’ve had games where the senior pros haven’t been available and we’ve suffered.

Craig Lingard Castleford Tigers Alamy
Castleford coach Craig Lingard celebrates Tigers’ first win of Super League 2024 with Liam Horne (left) and Sylvester Namo (right)

“Sport is about confidence and if you’re winning and performing, momentum comes with it, but it works the other way around too. If we’d had a couple more senior pros on top of what we had, we might have had a couple of different results on the pitch. We want to bring seniority in next year and keep the better youngsters.”

MORE TIGERS: Exclusive: Danny Richardson could leave Castleford Tigers on loan deal

One area Jepson is determined Castleford continue to develop is their fledging academy system, too. It is only two years since the club were awarded an elite academy licence but this year alone, their academy has victories against the likes of Leeds and Wigan to their name already.

“We need to make sure that our academy stars end up playing for Castleford, the better players certainly,” he says.

“Go round the league and there’s so many players from the Castleford area playing for other clubs and while part of it is simply sport and human nature, we want to make sure the best players are playing here. We didn’t even have an academy two years ago, and now we’re beating sides like Leeds and Wigan.

“At the bottom of the pyramid, we’ve got it right very quickly. They’re a couple of years away from properly coming in but look at George Hill, he had a fantastic debut last week and didn’t look out of place. This current crop of first-teamers will be more experienced next year so we need to add some seniority to it, but we have supreme confidence in what’s beneath that.”

With Craig Lingard as head coach and Danny Wilson as director of rugby, Jepson insists he has full confidence in the club’s rugby department to turn this short-term pain into a more prosperous longer term period of success.

He said: “There’s absolutely no issues with the rugby side of things. The structure of the club on rugby side is really strong – the results of the first-team aside, obviously. When you go through the pyramid to academy and scholars there’s a really strong sense of things building. I’ve every confidence in our rugby staff at all levels.”

Jepson has invested a significant seven-figure sum to help transform the Tigers. He also owns around 32 per cent of the shares – the same as both Ian and Janet Fulton – but would he ever consider becoming a majority shareholder?

“To be honest, it’s not something I’m really thinking about,” he admits. “I don’t rule it in, I don’t rule it out. The important thing was the money I put in went to the club.

“There’s been a lot of doubt and speculation but I bought the shares separately, and the money I invested went into the club. It’s just under £1.2million I’ve invested, and that’s gone directly into the club’s bank account – the purchase of the shares was a separate transaction.

“I’m very happy working with Ian and Janet, and we’ve all got provisions in our shareholding that means we have the same arrangement. Nobody is taking money out of the club, nobody is drawing any dividends. We’re committed to Castleford Tigers.

“I’d hope within five years this is a very different place. We’ll always be open to new investment coming in. I’m sure every club welcomes that but we have to make it a more investable business.

“A lot of people are saying to me to bring my mates in to invest but the reality is it’s a very difficult ask for someone who’s not a die-hard fan. I’m fortunate I have some disposable income I can put into the club and I hope it will make a real difference.”

READ NEXT: Ranking Super League clubs by number of players used in 2024 with Castleford ranking high