Over the next few months, as his detachment from reality grew more acute, he and the members of the general staff felt the noose grow ever tighter round their necks as the Allies closed in from the West and the Soviets closed in from the East.
It was the Soviets who got there first, on 16 April.
The Battle of Berlin began.
A day later, Eva Braun threw a party in the chancellery itself, to celebrate the dictator’s 56th birthday. It was the last hurrah. During the festivities a Soviet shell landed yards from the building and blew out a wall.
The party ended, those who could escape did and the others settled down to await the end.
In the movie Downfall, which charts the final days of the regime, there is a discussion about whether Hitler himself should try to flee the city.
It is his senior adviser Albert Speer who speaks the words that will determine his fate; “You must be on stage when the curtain falls,” he says, and Hitler nods.
From that moment on, those who had wedded themselves to the dictator, who had pledged to stand by him to the last, had nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide. Those who stayed knew the ultimate fate, and they accepted it with him.
Those who have chained themselves to the Dave King regime at Ibrox must feel like that, as if the walls are closing in around them today. It’s been a dreadful, a thoroughly appalling, last few days, from Friday’s bizarre late night press release to the hammer blows which have hit them, one after the other, in the last 24 hours.
Erase any thought that I feel bad for them.
These people deserve everything they get.
Sympathy isn’t exactly my default position when it comes to these folk; corrupt administrators, compromised journalists, braindead and ambitious fan reps. They’ve all conspired to put the club in the hands of a man a South African judge called “a glib and shameless liar” and they tied whatever was left of their reputations to his.
What a colossal error in judgement, one for which they will pay a high price before this matter is fully resolved.
This is a club on the brink of a catastrophe.
Let’s look at where things stand this morning.
Yesterday they published their accounts, and what a shambles they are.
The top-line figure of £7.4 million in losses would be dreadful enough, but that hides a multitude of sins. Without a series of loans, including the Sports Direct £5 million, the sale of a player and some other add-ons the actual figure would have been twice as high.
The club admits it doesn’t have the capital to get through the season, with the cash needed to do it supposedly coming from a proposed debt-for-equity swap that might not make it past the shareholders.
They are in hock to current directors at the moment, and rumours continue to circulate that these guys have had it.
Their other key lender is a guy they’ve pissed off so much he’s now taking legal action to have the chairman thrown in jail.
King himself has already been indicted and convicted for a tax fraud in South Africa, but before this he was on the board of the previous football club, which has just been found guilty of a massive, and long term, tax evasion scheme which in any other football association would have immediately opened an investigation leading to title stripping and historical disgrace.
As Andrew Smith has said, in an astonishingly blunt, and uncompromising, piece in The Scotsman this morning; “At the very least, the titles Rangers won in 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2010 should be declared void. These honours were won in the most dishonourable fashion.”
He’s correct. The Big Tax Case verdict is a moment that will haunt the club forevermore.
Their liquidation was all the more inevitable in the light of it, and Craig Whyte, the man the media and the Sevco fans love to blame, is shown to have been a spiv and a chancer, but also is absolved of the historic responsibility for their ultimate fate.
Rangers did not “die for nothing”, as some of their more ridiculous supporters reps have claimed.
They died because for too long they spent other people’s money, and finally yours and mine. When they were forced to pay their own way – and Whyte’s season was the first time in decades when they had to do that without European income – that fate was sealed.
At the same time, the manager has reversed himself on team building policy.
He’s seen his club crash out of one of the two main domestic cup competitions already and they just lost to their biggest challengers in the league.
On the football front, things aren’t bad.
They’re certainly not in crisis, but if they lose another match in the next few weeks the pressure on that end will begin to stack up.
The squad as it stands appears capable, but only in their current division.
Furthermore, with this club surrounded in uncertainty that is bound to take its toll.
There’s also the question as to whether the manager feels he’s going to get the backing he was promised.
He seemed genuinely excited a week ago when he talked about bringing in a better class of player. Just a few days later, he was no longer signing them and the statement that the club released later that night made it clear the money for them isn’t there unless it comes from more soft loans from the boardroom.
How long before he’s fed up with that?
This isn’t a guy with “Rangersitus” here. He’s a hardnosed professional, a guy who came from the financial markets. He believes he can build a reputation in football, and he will realise in the fullness of time what a car-crash Sevco actually is, if he isn’t already becoming aware of that.
Remember, this isn’t a guy King and the board can buy off with some cobblers about jam tomorrow.
He knows how to work with numbers. He knows you can’t build the kind of club he wants them to become without cold hard cash. He’s worked in the City, and he knows what it takes to go out and get financing. He knows about market credibility … and if he doesn’t already realise that Sevco has absolute none of that well, how the Hell did he make his money?
So there aren’t immediate problems in the dressing room, but those problems are on their way and you can see it for miles and miles.
If things get too difficult and Warburton believes his own reputation is being tarnished, this guy will walk and not look back.
All this is to say nothing of asset ownership issues, court cases mounting up, and persons connected to the club being under indictment.
Throughout all of what’s come before we’ve heard the usual bleating that none of this is the fault “of the club” itself, that the fans are victims, as if directors don’t make decisions on behalf of the institution that they’re running and those supporters didn’t have a chance.
This is a club where crisis is a permanent state of affairs, where one boardroom shyster is soon replaced by another and where all of them – without exception – are cheered in and jeered out later by a support which appears stone stupid and unable to learn from past mistakes.
They backed Whyte before they turned on him, even as we told them he was a charlatan of the very worst kind.
We exposed his lies even before he took over, and they didn’t listen and hailed him a hero.
They were still unbelieving right up to administration day itself.
They welcomed Green with open arms, buying not so much into his business plan (which had more holes in it than a Jerry Bruckheimer film) as his bombast when he talked about “Rangersitus” and how every other club hated them because of bigotry.
I ask you, if you were a dodgy geezer looking for people to fleece, could you do any better than tens of thousands who would reach into their wallets the moment you started talking about how they were special and the rest of the world was against them because of it?
That’s the easiest money the guy ever made in his life.
Now there’s Dave King, the “glib and shameless liar”, the man who a court condemned in the harshest language permissible without resorting to swearing.
This guy has reversed himself so many times since taking over it’s become impossible now to recognise the place where reality ends and the pipe dreams begin. Fact, fiction, even fantasy, have merged into one with this joker, and you get the impression watching him, reading him and listening to him that he simply says whatever comes into his head, or whatever he thinks the audience wants to hear, whatever its relationship to truth.
The media loves him, for reasons passing understanding as he is not evenly remotely credible.
His record in front of them is deplorable. He treats them like absolute mugs, clearly thinking of them as useful idiots without a shred of backbone at all. He has to, otherwise he wouldn’t so freely, and fearlessly, lie to their faces.
Even today, Keith Jackson has praised King for “openness” in how they’ll get through the season; loans from existing shareholders.
Those loans, according to Jackson, have already been agreed by the directors.
Is that true? I think he should check and make sure this isn’t just a case of King being economical with the facts again.
He’s bought, wholly, into the stated figure of £2.5 million being enough to get the club through the season too. I’m willing to bet that long before the current campaign ends we’ll be hearing that it isn’t quite enough, that it’s going to take the same again – at least – to actually complete their fixtures. And where’s that coming from?
He’s talking the usual nonsense about how the club can “untangle the finances” with a share issue, and goes on to call those of us who are predicting “imminent catastrophe” as indulging in “absurd wishful thinking.”
First, none of us said this is “imminent.”
That is to say that it won’t be tomorrow or the day after that.
They may even limp to the end of the season.
But there are long term structural problems at Ibrox that won’t be resolved as long as Dave King is at the helm, and sooner or later his fellow directors are going to tell him there’s no more gas left in the tank.
Imminent? No. But certain, and it doesn’t take a genius to work this stuff out.
Basic math is all that’s required.
With their losses at the current level – even taking loans into account, by God – this is a club heading for disaster.
That’s a simple statement of fact.
And this share issue he’s talking about … let’s surmise that they’re able to launch it. Let’s even surmise they can hit their target, whatever that is.
This isn’t money for infrastructure spending. It’s going to be spent on the team; King’s made that pretty clear. So the wage bill will rise. Fans will get a temporary hit and buy season tickets.
Then what? Scottish football revenues aren’t enough to sustain their greedy over-reach. Once the share issue money is gone – and it won’t take long – then what?
With a new cost base that will be twice what it currently is they’ll be counting on European income to survive, if they make it that far.
Haven’t they been there before?
That way lies the boneyard.
If Jackson, Scotland’s most clinically stupid “journalist”, wants a textbook example of “absurd wishful thinking” he just gave it to us himself.
The supporters and the media have gone “all in” with Dave King, as have the governing bodies, who passed him as fit and proper despite his criminal past and his relationship with the old club that went bust on his watch.
That they allowed this guy to take up a senior position with a Scottish football club with the words of King’s national judiciary completing his disgrace was stunning to all of us who, nevertheless, had been expecting it to happen.
Like the acolytes of Hitler, who crowded into the bunker, his future and theirs are now inextricably entwined.
If he should, for example, wind up in the jail come the end of the year – and whatever Jackson reckons his suspended sentence for contempt in a South African court, and the noxious mix of what Ashley is accusing him of, makes it dangerously possible that he will – the first thing that will happen is their collective credibility will tank.
He doesn’t even have to wind up in prison for that to happen. Jackson has dismissed, as if it’s nothing, the possibility that the court will simply fine King instead. For contempt of court. Because that happens to football chairmen all the time, right?
Yes, somewhere a village is definitely missing its idiot.
If King is actually admonished by the court the consequences for the club will be further disgrace at the very best.
If he’s jailed they’ll be catastrophic.
My prediction is that they’ll enter administration on the same day, or shortly thereafter, as the directors run to distance themselves from a crisis of Chernobyl proportions.
Their fundraising capability will be obliterated well into the long term future, at least as long as King is chairman and for many, many years beyond.
The reputational damage to the club and to many in the game here, especially those who waved him through Fit and Proper person, will be monumental.
Disaster is closing in on this club, whatever optimistic press releases they might put out and whatever their friends in the media might want people to believe.
There’s a reason a judge in South Africa called King a “glib and shameless liar” and there’s a reason the Scottish sporting press have a toxic reputation with their former readers and the Bampots.
The undertone of panic in some of the coverage today is palpable, and it’s there because these people know that when the roof falls in it’s going to land right on top of them.
That’s the consequence of getting down into the bunker with a madman and his circus of fools.
And with crisis now coming at them from all sides, there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.
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