Castleford Tigers rugby club has had its £40,000 fine for fans’ homophobic chanting halved.

The club was fined by the Rugby Football League (RFL) for the incident, which happened during gay player Gareth Thomas’ first game for the Crusaders in March.

Castleford banned three fans for the offensive chants but appealed against the fine, which it said was motivated by a “hidden agenda”.

The club argued that it had taken steps to root out homophobic fans and the RFL appeals tribunal agreed to lower the fine to £20,000.

Castleford Tigers chief executive Richard Wright said: “Castleford Tigers in no way condone abusive chanting or behaviour and we accept the outcome of the appeals tribunal.

“The RFL have sent a clear message to us, and all of the clubs, that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated. Further to this, our fans have urged us to take a strong stance on inappropriate behaviour and chanting via focus groups and communication.

“We will be taking a no tolerance approach and will issue anyone who is found indulging in such behaviour with lengthy bans.

“We also aim to expand our well established match day procedures and continue to pro-actively promote the sport’s family values in a successful manner.”

Following the match, Thomas said he was “pretty hurt” by the abuse, which came only three months after he came out as gay.

In a statement in June, his manager Emanuele Palladino said: “Unfortunately, what happened at Castleford could not be ignored. We are delighted that the RFL have taken action against what is a serious and upsetting incident for all parties.”