Castleford Tigers fans have been warned by the club’s chief executive to ensure that homophobic chants directed at gay player Gareth Thomas are not repeated.

The club was fined £40,000 last year after a small number of fans abused Crusaders star Thomas. The fine was cut to £20,000 on appeal and the club banned three people.

The Crusaders are to play an away match against Castleford on Sunday and chief executive Richard Wright urged fans to prove that the club is not anti-gay.

He said: “We’ve put a lot of hard work into taking every step possible to prevent a repeat of last year.

“There has been a fantastic atmosphere at games so far this season and we are grateful to our fans for that.

“We’ve invited the RFL’s [Rugby Football League] equality and diversity officer as guest of honour for Sunday’s game and we are very proud of the fantastic progress made in introducing new initiatives, some of which are firsts for rugby league and sport in general.

“We know that it was a small number of mindless fools that let the club, the town and the sport of rugby league down last year and we have taken steps to deal with these. Anybody found guilty of homophobic abuse has, and will be, banned from games indefinitely.”

He added: “Sunday is an opportunity for the fans to make a statement that Castleford Tigers are not a homophobic club. The club has played its part, it’s now up to the fans to concentrate on cheering the team and proving once and for all how this is a proud club, that warrants its reputation as one of the friendliest, family-orientated clubs in the game.”

Mr Wright described measures taken by the club to stamp out homophobia, including a poster campaign, improved CCTV audio recording and briefing of stewards.