'Football can be a cold, ruthless business'

Of Portsmouth's 14 out of contract players, 10 have been released with only four offered new deals
Portsmouth players celebrate winning League One [Getty Images]

On Sunday afternoon the Portsmouth squad were on stage in Southsea celebrating their League One title in front of thousands of supporters.

Twenty four hours later, a number of them were told that was their final “outing” as a Pompey player.

Of the club’s 14 out-of-contract players, 10 have been released with only four offered new deals.

For most, it wouldn’t have been a surprise, six of the 10 hadn’t played a league minute all season and only two of the 10 had started more than two league matches.

It’s better for the player to know straight away that they’ll be leaving.

No point stringing it out, the earlier they know, the quicker the player and their agent can start working on where they might be playing next year.

Two names clearly stand out on the list of released players.

Sean Raggett and Joe Rafferty, both can leave with their heads held high.

Raggett will surely enter the club’s hall of fame in the future.

As he told me after the final home game of the season against Wigan, if he wasn’t to play at Fratton Park again, leaving after lifting the League One trophy was a good way to bow out.

It is sad that his five-year spell has come to an end but the decision isn’t a surprise.

He had slipped down the pecking order of centre-backs only to fill in superbly when, first, Regan Poole and then Tom McIntyre picked up serious injuries.

There will surely be a number of promotion-chasing League One clubs keen to sign him.

The decision to let Joe Rafferty go must have been hugely challenging.

The 30 year-old played 42 times this season and did pretty much everything that could have been asked of him.

He’s a leader, who moved his family down from the North-West for the past two years, and has been completely dedicated to the cause of Pompey’s promotion.

Ultimately, Richard Hughes and John Mousinho have made the judgement that they want a different right-back in the Championship.

If contracts were given out as rewards for past performances, Raggett and Rafferty would both have received one.

The reality is they have to be offered as a prediction for what a player might be able to contribute in the future.

Offering Marlon Pack a new deal is no surprise.

He’s been an inspirational captain and a brilliant player this season.

He’s one of the few in the squad with Championship experience.

Connor Ogilvie has had a frustrating season with injury but is always rock-solid and can play either left-back or centre-back.

The situations with Joe Morrell and Zak Swanson need a little explaining.

The club could have chosen to trigger an extra year’s contract with both, they have declined to do so but are still in talks.

While I don’t know the specific circumstances for Morrell and Swanson, option years usually involve a salary increase.

Promotion also usually yields a pay rise for anyone who's played 23 league games or more.

So, ultimately, the club would like to keep them but at a lower salary than the option year would have paid them.

One of the things John Mousinho likes about the current management structure of the club is he doesn’t get involved with agents and salary discussions.

After a brilliant season, debating with someone what they are worth financially must be challenging.

Even after joyous times, football can be a cold, ruthless business.