Brian Rice: John Hartson offers to take Hamilton boss to Gamblers Anonymous

John Hartson
John Hartson says "gambling is a serious problem"

John Hartson says he will take Brian Rice to get help for his gambling issues after doing the same for "five or six" Premiership footballers.

Hamilton boss Rice, who already attends classes for the issue, faces charges for breaching Scottish FA betting rules after contacting the governing body.

Former Celtic forward Hartson struggled with gambling for 20 years but has not placed a bet for more than eight years.

"This could be the start of a new life for Brian," Hartson told BBC Scotland.

"He needs to be applauded and not vilified for this. He is a football manager but he's like any other compulsive gambler.

"He needs to go to Gamblers Anonymous. What you find there is that everybody is working in the same direction and wants help. There's no hiding there. I'll take Brian. I go to meetings twice a week.

"I've taken five or six Premiership footballers with me, I've spoken to Scottish Premiership managers about players that are struggling."

'It's up to him'

The charges against Rice relate to each season from 14 July 2015 to 15 October 2019, with the SFA rules stating no club employees should bet on any football.

Former Hibernian and Nottingham Forest player Rice previously coached with manager John Hughes at Inverness Caledonian Thistle and became Hamilton boss a year ago.

Hartson, who battled cancer as well as a gambling addiction, is willing to give people in the game the impetus to seek help.

"All I can do is take Brian, then it's up to him," Hartson said. "It's like taking a horse to water.

"It took me to the depths. The cancer took me to my knees and ripped me to pieces mentally and physically.

"I can honestly say as much as that was my life, stopping gambling and becoming clean has not only saved my life it's given me a life. Gambling no longer controls what I do.

"If I hadn't got myself clean, I'd either be dead or in jail. I can put my hand on heart and say that. I was at my rock bottom."

In recent seasons, the SFA has banned players and club officials for breaches of the rules and Hartson believes gambling is "huge across the board".

"Gambling is a serious problem and if people don't get hold of it they will end up in one place," he added. "They will end up divorced, no money, kicked out of their house, no relationship with their children and at rock bottom.

"With gambling you can hide it, you can become a secret gambler. You can keep it away from people. I think it's a problem and a big issue that needs resolved."

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