Ex-Preston North End star axed as Portsmouth make huge contract decisions ahead of Championship return

Pompey have decided not to keep Joe Rafferty for next season. The former Preston North End star won the league title with them. (Image: Getty Images)Pompey have decided not to keep Joe Rafferty for next season. The former Preston North End star won the league title with them. (Image: Getty Images)
Pompey have decided not to keep Joe Rafferty for next season. The former Preston North End star won the league title with them. (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images
Clubs are publishing their retained lists for the 2023/24 season and one former Preston North End man is now without a club.

Former Preston North End defender Joe Rafferty will not be joining his former club in the Championship next season after he was released.

The 30-year-old won the League One title with Portsmouth in April and went viral for his celebrations. Pompey though have decided not to give him a new contract as they make some tough decisions ahead of their return to English football's second tier.

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Rafferty appeared 39 times for the Hampshire club in their title-winning campaign and started in 36 of their matches, but have different plans for the right-side of their defence. The Liverpool-born defender departs Fratton Park following two seasons at the club with 68 appearances made in all competitions.

Explaining the decision to the official club website, former Lilywhites star John Mousinho said: “It’s always tough to tell players that they’re not going to receive new contracts and the fact this team has been so successful makes it doubly difficult.

“There are guys who certainly deserve to get a deal because of the instrumental role they’ve played in helping us secure the League One title. That’s particularly true for Sean Raggett and Joe Rafferty, who have both been excellent.

“But I have no doubt there will be a lot of interest in them, as there will for the other guys who are leaving. But it’s important that we separate the sentiment from the reality of competing in the Championship next season. For that reason we have needed to make some incredibly tough decisions and I get on with all the lads, so I wish them nothing but the best moving forward.”

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Rafferty began his career at Rochdale in 2012 and made 257 appearances for them over six-and-a-half seasons. He was signed by Preston in January 2019 for an undisclosed fee and made 72 appearances for them over three-and-a-half years. Pompey was Rafferty's next club after Preston following his release and now he is on the hunt for the fourth team of his career.

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