Hamilton: Chairman says Accies would have kept boss Martin Canning if relegated

Hamilton manager Martin Canning
Hamilton manager Martin Canning steered his side to Premiership safety in the promotion play-off against Dundee United

Hamilton Academical would have stuck by manager Martin Canning even if they had been relegated, according to chairman Les Gray.

Accies retained their Scottish Premiership status with a 1-0 play-off final win over Dundee United.

Relegated Inverness Caledonian Thistle have parted with manager Richie Foran.

"Had we been relegated, Martin would have still been the manager next season," Gray told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound.

"Never crossed my mind. Never sat down with the board and discussed it at any time during the season," Gray added.

"We didn't intend to and we always discuss things at the end of the season anyway."

'There's a lot of stress and tension attached to the game'

Canning took charge after Alex Neil left for Norwich City in 2015 and, after avoiding relegation on Sunday, thanked the club for their loyalty.

He had been Neil's assistant when they won promotion from the Championship by beating Hibernian in a play-off the previous year.

Gray defended his players and staff, who have been criticised by some football pundits for the strength of their celebrations this time round despite finishing second bottom of the top flight.

"We had no plans to carry out any celebration, but the SPFL bring boards and sponsors want shouts after the game," said the chairman.

"It wasn't quite like our win at Hibs a couple of years back, obviously not.

"But you find yourself in the mood where you've just won the game, there's a lot of stress and tension attached to that game for everyone - management, staff, the board, the whole shooting match - and, when you actually win the game, there is a relief.

"So what you witnessed was not so much a celebration as a relief."

Hamilton's Greg Docherty
Hamilton's Greg Docherty celebrates the goal against Dundee United that kept his side in the Premiership

Gray, though, had backed his side to overcome United, who finished third in the Championship and were looking to return to the top flight after one season.

"Over the course of the last few weeks, we've been playing quite well and probably came good at the right time," he said.

"I was confident that, if we could get the ball down, which was difficult in that game because it was a bit frantic, we could win."

Gray stressed that Hamilton would have coped financially without making redundancies had they been relegated.

"At the bottom end of the Premiership, your distribution will be just over £1m or thereabouts from the league before you open your doors and sell tickets and hospitality," he added.

"If you get relegated in the play-off, you get a parachute payment of £500,000 and, if you are in the top four in the Championship, you would probably have a distribution of about £300,000.

"So your half a million and your three gives you £800,000, so you are only 200 grand short of if you are bottom six.

"So, effectively, for a club like Hamilton, or anyone else in that position, you've got a really good chance of coming back on a good budget."

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