Castleford Tigers chairman Ian Fulton optimistic for club’s future post-Covid
Given how much his benevolent father – aged 83 when he died in 2015 – invested into the West Yorkshire club during his decades in charge, it is no surprise.
At times, Fulton senior kept Castleford alive and his son was never going to let it slip away and undo all that good work.
In contrast, he has helped it flourish, seeing them lift the League Leaders’ Shield for the first time in their history in 2017, reach the Grand Final and become one of the most competitive teams in Super League under head coach Daryl Powell.
In a rare interview, looking at his time as chairman so far and what the future may have in store, Fulton told The Yorkshire Post: “The club’s evolved massively the last five years on and off the field, from the football side to how it is run and managed.
“Daryl has implemented huge changes in the club’s approach to playing, to the way players manage themselves and the values and high standards that are required of them.
“Off-field management has changed totally, along with restructuring of all departments we’ve achieved year-on-year growth in sponsorship and retail sales along with cutting out overspend.
“Thanks must go to the management team now in place for achieving this, and more so for what they have achieved this last year in what has been a very difficult and challenging year.
“We have a strong board in place with Steve Vause, John Duff, Dion Lowe, and club secretary Rob Clarkson who are all lifelong Cas fans, committed to moving the club forward and achieving success. I’d like to thank them all for their support and help in the time I have worked with them.”
Like all clubs, Castleford know 2021 will be a battle; with no crowds in grounds since last March and the new season also expected to start behind closed doors and put back a fortnight until March 25, the pandemic refuses to release its grip.
Nevertheless, Fulton remains optimistic Tigers will emerge intact, paying respect to managing director Mark Grattan for work done last year planning for 2021.
He added: “We are in very uncertain times and have had to cut costs. As with all clubs our matchday incomes have disappeared which has had an impact on all other sales and a lot will depend on what happens this year.
“Covid has had a huge impact on all our daily lives and sport has suffered like a lot of business because of it. The way we live our lives has changed and there is the uncertainty of what will happen but keeping people safe is the main concern at the moment.
“With cost-cutting and government assistance we are doing okay at the moment; our sponsors have been great and committed for next year, supporters are buying season tickets and are being very supportive as always.”
It is in towns like Castleford that the rugby league club is still so rooted in the community and Fulton is mindful of just how vital it is to its people. He said: “I became chairman after the death of my father. It is a privilege to be asked to do that. It is my job as chairman to ensure the club has a sound, stable footing going forward, because the club first and foremost is for the fans and town.
“It was here before all of us and we want to ensure it’s here in the future for the enjoyment of the future supporters. Decisions are made with these things in mind. Not all will please everyone but the club needs to be viable and if we can keep it that way then it should continue building and becoming a consistently top team.”
And what would his father think?
Fulton said: “You become involved with a club because you support that team; my parents did and supported Cas for many years. Unfortunately, neither got to see the success of the last five years, but I know they’d have been immensely proud.”
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