'Strange timing, strange club' - Hamilton Accies chief explains Brian Rice new deal

Hamilton Accies chairman Allan Maitland has accepted that the decision to award Brian Rice a new one-year rolling contract will be viewed as a “strange” one.

Hamilton manager Brian Rice has agreed a new one-year rolling contract (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The Lanarkshire side have chosen to hand the manager, his assistant Guillaume Beuzelin and goalkeeping coach Brian Potter new deals despite the team sitting two points adrift at the bottom of the table with just four games remaining.

Maitland knows the decision to keep Rice will surprise some fans – especially those who protested outside the FOYS Stadium in the wake of December's 8-0 thumping from Rangers.

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But the Accies chairman said: "I know it seems strange timing but this is a strange club and we like to do things differently here.

"I think the staff have been magnificent, I think the players have been magnificent and the spirit of the club despite all the injuries and the Covid issues has been fantastic.

"We're still here fighting to avoid relegation if that's possible – but even if we are relegated it won't make any difference to our management staff going forward.

"I think it's a coup for us to manage to get Brian, Bouzy and Pottsy to sign their contracts.

"Stability is a big thing. We had a situation earlier in the season when the team was struggling and I spoke to Brian and Bouzy at the time. I said, 'See if I was starting a search for a new manager on Monday, you'd be our guy, so I want to commit to you'.

"Despite the fact we were struggling at that time, it gave Brian that sense of security that was maybe a worry for him.

"People recognise this club is different from others and I want this to be a sign of how we support our staff."

Rice himself accepted that if he was working for any other club, he would already have been axed. Hamilton stood by their manager last year despite the 57-year-old being hit with a 10-game ban for breaching gambling rules.

"I didn't need convincing to sign on again," Rice said. "This is a unique club and fits in with everything I'm looking for in terms of how they look after their staff.

"I owe this club a huge debt of gratitude so it was an easy decision for me.

"They gave me the chance to become a head coach and were right behind me all the way with the problems that I've had.

"Right from the top, the fans, the players, the owners, the directors - they have all backed me and really looked after me.

"Did I ever fear the club might not stand by me? One hundred per cent. But if there's any club in Britain that will stand by you it's this club.

"If I was at any other team, I probably wouldn't be the head coach. But this is a unique club with fantastic people from top to the bottom."

Rice was appointed in 2019 and has twice successfully steered Accies away from the drop.

He faces a tougher task rescuing them this season, however, with Hamilton hovering over the trapdoor.

But he added: "The spirit has never wavered. We've had massive setbacks this season. But we've just got to get on with it and we're still in there fighting.”

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