FORMER Cowdenbeath defender Dean Brett understands the vicious circle of the gambling world more than most.

The 27-year-old was sacked by the Blue Brazil back in 2017 for breaching gambling rules and placing almost 3,000 bets on football matches, including some he was involved in as a player.

Brett would sit in his house withhis baby daughter Mia and waste payslips on coupons, chasing the buzz of a big win. A rush which would never satisfy the player, leading to more money spent and more money wasted.

Hamilton head coach Brian Rice, meanwhile, reported himself to the SFA earlier this week over his gambling ‘disease’ that has plagued his life for more than seven years.

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The Accies boss, 56, publicly revealed in a statement via the club’s website that he continues to battle his demons but wants to be open and transparent with fans and Scottish football’s governing body. And he’ll accept any punishment that may be forthcoming.

Brett, though, hopes the SFA are not too heavy-handed with Rice. The manager may have broken the rules but he is willing to atone for his errors. He is clearly seeking help – something at the time, Brett himself found difficult to do. “I couldn’t save any money,” Brett said. “I went through a bad spell when I first moved in and was living myself. I had my wee one but she’s not going to be in my ear about betting, so I was alone.

“It was something like almost 3,000 bets and some of them were against Cowdenbeath when I was playing there. It’s a disease.

“When you’ve got it you want to keep betting and win money. You wake up and go straight into online gambling which, at the time, is brilliant, there’s no better feeling. I would spend any money I had spare on bets.

“It’s that much of a disease that it’s your favourite thing to do. But it’s horrible, it ruins lives and families. I feel like it doesn’t get treated the same as most other things. This is part of mental health.

“It can cause depression and anxiety. It needs more recognition. I think people need to accept it.

“Even family, they can say, ‘You’re stupid doing that’, but I don’t think that’s the answer either. People need help and support in that case. There shouldn’t be a negative attitude towards it, people should try and help.”

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On potential punishment Rice faces, Brett added: “I got a four-game ban with four suspended and I felt that was fair at the time. I don’t see anything more than that for Brian. It doesn’t need to be a massive fine or ban, the man has a disease, he has problems and needs help.

“Any more than a four to eight game ban is ridiculous. It’s not his fault, I think that’s what people don’t realise.”

Clubs around the country and fans from all walks of life united in support for the Hamilton manager. And Brett had his own words of praise – and advice – for the former Hibs and Falkirk player.

“There will be other people who will have an addiction and if Brian can come out with what he said, it shows anyone can do it,” he said. “Even people who follow the game will look up to him. There is a lot of support on social media for him.

“Just keep speaking about it. Even if Brian wants a bet one day or one weekend, he should say it someone he knows, someone who is closest. If you don’t speak to anyone about it, it can be easy to get back into it. I think he’ll get the help he needs at Hamilton.”