Brian Rice: Hamilton Academical to stand by head coach after gambling charges

Brian Rice
Allan Maitland says Brian Rice's charges will make the club "stronger"

Chairman Allan Maitland has vowed Hamilton Academical will help Brian Rice "through this" as the head coach faces Scottish FA gambling charges.

A 30 January hearing will decide on the 56-year-old's punishment for breaching the rules five seasons in a row.

Rice reported his own relapse into gambling addiction.

"He's shown a lot of courage to do it and it's unbelievable that he has come forward to the SFA and self-declared it," Maitland told BBC Scotland.

A suspension of between three and 16 matches, plus a maximum £100,000 fine, awaits the former Hibernian, Nottingham Forest and Falkirk midfielder who was appointed head coach in January 2019.

"We're talking about someone being prevented from their employment and job," Maitland said. "Would it just be a Saturday? Would it be all week? We'd need to wait and see exactly what that entails.

"The bottom line is that that is why we have a support staff here - assistant managers, coaches, etc., helping. Whatever it takes, we'll try and find a way to help him through this.

"Every year, we're in a relegation dogfight and it will just make us stronger. It'll make everyone come together and we'll give the full support to the team and the manager that we possibly can.

"He's already tried to sort himself out with that openness and attending rehab, so I'm not expecting him to take any time out. But it will depend on what sort of suspension or fine that comes his way."

'I felt let down at first'

Maitland revealed that there is "at least" one charge for each of the previous five seasons but stressed that the head coach had not been betting "on our games".

"I've yet to get a full report on what the games are, but he was gambling on football, which is a breach of all rules," he said. "Whatever punishment he gets - and rightly so - then he'll deserve that punishment.

"But, equally, I think it's important that people realise that it isn't something people do willingly. It's an illness. It's an addiction and I'm actually going to try and push to support him as much as possible."

Maitland said that nobody at the club had realised Rice had relapsed and, after "that initial selfish thing" about what it would mean for the Accies, he was now focused on helping Rice through the current crisis.

"I felt let down in many ways as, when we initially spoke to Brian about coming to the club, we were assured that the gambling addiction had been cured or that he had been in rehab," added Maitland.

"But, after a while, we started to feel empathy for him and recognised the courage that it took for Brian to come and speak to us about it - and actually go to the Scottish FA about it."

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