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“No need for us to panic” – IMG saving Castleford Tigers from relegation fears

Castleford Tigers head coach Craig Lingard in a black and amber club jacket.

Craig Lingard has explained that the lack of traditional on-field promotion and relegation means Castleford Tigers have “no need to panic” in reference to the scramble to sign players and bolster their squad.

Last season the Tigers made a series of signings late in the season as they attempted to fend off the relegation dogfight that rivals Wakefield Trinity tried to drag them into, with players such as Liam Horne, Charbel Tasipale, Billy Tsikrikas and Blake Austin all arriving at the club.

Despite a winless start to Super League, the fear of finishing bottom isn’t the main concern for Castleford Tigers due to the introduction of grading as a means of promotion and relegation, the Tigers instead focusing their money off-field, rather than on it.

That’s already been evident with the investment by new part-owner Martin Jepson as well as the club forging forward with their stadium development plans and it seems likely that the money will continue to be funnelled in that direction as opposed to towards their playing squad.

Asked at what stage his Castleford Tigers squad can be fairly judged this season, Lingard told the press: “It’s a difficult question because this season’s different than any other season because we know there’s no relegation based on field stuff this year. So there’s no need for us to panic at any point during the season.

“We don’t need to go out and spend loads and loads of money to bring somebody in to avoid relegation if it gets to the point in the season where we’ve not won as many games as we think we ought to have done.”

Whilst, indeed, off-field investments will likely be where the smart money goes this season to accrue the vital IMG points, it is still a strange new reality that a head coach can confirm money won’t be spent to remedy squad problems and compete more equally, despite that cash seemingly being available.

‘Judge us after 15 games’ – New signings need time to bed in at Castleford Tigers

Castleford Tigers

Credit: Imago Images

On the topic of when his side can be judged, Lingard continued to explain that judgement must be made on progress but he admitted it would likely be slower progress than fans might be used to due to the lack of experience in his squad.

He continued: “We need to make sure that we’re judged based on the progress that we’re making. The players that we’ve got, as I’ve said previously, we’ve got 70% of our squad that aren’t established Super League players. They’re not going to be established overnight, they’re not going to be established Super League players in five, ten or fifteen games. So it’s probably a little bit more of a longer project than what you’re thinking.

“You can’t judge these guys by Easter, you might not even be able to judge them by ten games into the season. As a group of players, staff, directors and everything else that comes with the club. We’re looking at making progress game on game. What you might deem as progress might be different to what we deem as progress.”

So whilst it’s been confirmed that money won’t be spent on the squad this year, Lingard did offer Castlerofrd Tigers fans something to cling to with the promise of “quality players” to be joining in the coming years, as previously reported.

“Whether you agree with IMG or not, the promotion and relegation, how it’s decided. We’re in a situation where we are, where we’ve been given that opportunity now to look at developing some players this year and then integrating some more quality players into more established players next year and then again the year after.”



  1. Jaybs

    March 27, 2024 at 10:51 am

    NO GUARANTEES, even for Castleford, IMG have got it completely wrong, with their judgement regards a Super League side in Our Capital City, perhaps they are fine with some sports, but they are Clueless about Rugby League.can’t believe what we are paying them? what have they done so far to Improve Our Game, ZILCH! Heads will have to roll who made this major error!

  2. William friar

    March 27, 2024 at 11:30 am

    Could lose every game and still be ok , when a club can win a lot and under IMG rules can be relegated. shows how rugby league is dying under such rules as a fair and equal sport. not what you do on the pitch but who you know in the ruling body.

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