It was Bailey's decision to leave

Preston say they did not get the chance to discuss a new contract with Bailey Wright during the last few months, hence them having to cash-in on the long-serving defender.

Saturday, 7th January 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 12:47 pm
Bailey Wright has joined Bristol City

Wright joined Bristol City yesterday, ending a saga over his future which had rumbled on for quite a while.

Faced with losing him for nothing under the Bosman ruling in the summer, North End accepted City’s offer.

The size of the fee is undisclosed – as per Football League rules – but is thought to run high into six figures.

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Australia international Wright had been on the books at Deepdale since 2009.

He made 205 appearances for the Lilywhites, signing off with a strong performance in Monday’s 1-0 win at Burton.

His debut for the Robins could come in their FA Cup tie with Fleetwood at Ashton Gate today.

Preston – who host Arsenal at Deepdale at 5.30pm this evening – put out a statement when announcing the move, explaining why they had let Wright leave.

The statement read: “The club had been attempting to discuss a new contract with the Australian international since last summer, but he had declined to enter into negotiations and indicated his desire to move on.

“In the circumstances, the only option left to Preston North End was to allow Bailey to leave if an acceptable transfer fee could be agreed with another interested club and following discussions with the Robins, a fee has been agreed.

“Preston North End would like to thank Bailey for his years of commitment and effort and wish him the very best for the future.”

PNE have signed up a number of the first-team squad on extended contracts since the summer.

Ben Pearson was the latest to agree a three-and-a-half year deal last week, with Tom Clarke, Paul Huntington, Greg Cunningham, Daniel Johnson, Paul Gallagher and Jordan Hugill among the others.

In terms of replacing Wright, PNE signed Andy Boyle from Dundalk before Christmas.

Clarke, Huntington and Alex Baptiste are all options for the centre of defence.

There had been talk of Chinese clubs being interested in Wright but that was not a career move which appealed to him at this stage.

The switch to Ashton Gate clearly did appeal.

Said Wright: “I’m excited to get it all sorted and I’m looking forward to what is ahead.

“There are big ambitions, it is a big club in a really nice city. It is a nice feeling to be here.”

City head coach Lee Johnson, who is attempting to halt his side’s slide down the division, said Wright fitted the bill for what they needed.

Johnson said: “Bailey has a warrior spirit and represents a good signing for us.

“He’s 24 and has great Championship experience, he’s a tough, Australian international – he’s an old-fashioned stopper.

“Jamie McAllister, our Under-23s coach, was with him at Preston and only had good things to say about him.”

The departure of Wright leaves John Welsh and Huntington as PNE’s longest-serving players, the pair joining in July 2012.

Wright signed seven-and-a-half years ago after catching the eye during a short trial with the youth team.

He made his debut for the first-team in August 2010 but it was not until the latter stages of the 2011/12 campaign that he became a regular.

In 2014, he made it into Australia’s World Cup squad as an uncapped player – the 24-year-old has since been capped 12 times.

It has been a busy transfer window already or North End, with six deals in and out done in less than a week.

Boyle, Daryl Horgan and Tom Barkhuizen were registered on January 1, after their deals were agreed beforehand.

Wright follows Chris Humphrey and Ben Davies through the exit door.

Humphrey cancelled his contract my mutual consent and then joined Hibernian.

Defender Davies joined Fleetwood on loan until the end of the season and could face Wright today.

With the window open until January 31, there could yet be more business to be done by North End, both in and out.