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HAMILTON head coach Brian Rice has revealed he alerted the Scottish Football Association to his own crime of breaching betting rules after his “horrible disease” of gambling addiction returned.
The 56-year-old has been charged with breaching the SFA’s zero-tolerance rules on gambling on football during this season and each of the previous four campaigns.
Rice previously admitted a 30-year gambling problem in 2013 after being threatened with jail in Qatar over a £65,000 debt which friends helped him pay off.
The former Hibernian and Nottingham Forest midfielder has expressed his regret at his lapse and declared he wanted to “atone through openness,” a decision backed by his employers.
In a statement on his club’s official website, Rice said: “The reason I am speaking out is to remove the stigma attached to this horrible, isolating disease, in the hope that those involved in Scottish football who are similarly in its grasp feel they can seek help and draw strength from my admission.
“After committing to recovery I cannot believe that I have found myself back in the grip of gambling addiction but this disease is not cured with a finite course of treatment.
“You are an addict for life and through my commitment to the 12-step recovery programme, I am confident I can stay on top of this disease one day at a time.
“I am eternally grateful to the club for its unwavering support, both seen and unseen.”
Hamilton chief executive Colin McGowan, who has previously spoken about his own battles with alcohol and drug addiction in his younger years, believes Rice’s admission could be a watershed moment and called on the SFA to adopt an amnesty on gambling offences in order to help players and coaches confront their addictions.
Rice faces a hearing on January 30. The sanctions available to the disciplinary panel range from a three-match to a 16-match ban to expulsion from the game in the most serious of cases, and a fine of up to £100,000.
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