Author donates theatre rights to Leeds United novel to help save Red Ladder

A scene from the film adaptation of The Damned Utd
A scene from the film adaptation of The Damned Utd
Have your say

AUTHOR David Peace has donated the theatre rights to his critically-acclaimed Leeds United novel The Damned Utd to help save a struggling theatre company

Yorkshire-born Mr Peace, who also penned The Red Riding quartet, donated the rights to Red Ladder, who lost their 100 per cent of its Arts Council funding in July.

The theatre company, which was founded in London in 1968 but moved to Leeds in the 1970s, where it is still based, is currently trying to raise £80,000 to pay for the book to be adapted and the play to be produced.

Mr Peace allowed Red Ladder to purchase the theatre rights from publisher Faber & Faber for the nominal sum of £3.68 - to represent the 368 pages in the book.

The Damned Utd, which was released in 2006, is based on Brian Clough’s fateful 44-day spell at manager at Leeds United in 1974.

In 2009 it was turned into a film, with Michael Sheen playing Clough.

Mr Peace grew up in Ossett, West Yorkshire and attended Batley Grammar School and Wakefield College before studying at Manchester Polytechnic. He moved to Tokyo, Japan, in 1994 and returned to the UK for two years in 2009, when he was first connected with Red Ladder.

Mr Peace said: “For me, after all the inspiration and support I got from Red Ladder, particularly with the Red Writers Group while I was back in the UK from 2009 and 2011, and all the enthusiasm and interest Rod Dixon and Chris Lloyd have shown in my work - they were so helpful and inspiring when I was writing Red or Dead - offering the theatrical rights for The Damned United for the minimum amount possible was the very least I could do to try, even in a such a small way, to help ‘Save Red Ladder.”

The radical theatre company’s history is rooted in the radical socialist theatre movement known as agitpop, and has been acknowledged as one of the country’s leading touring theatre companies.

The Save Red Ladder campaign, which was initially set up to cover the production budget of one UK tour, has also been given a boost by online giving site Localgiving, which has launched a ‘Grow Your Tenner’ match fund, which matches the first £10 of all donations to the campaign made through the site.

It means each £10 donated will be worth £21.55 to the company, including Gift Aid. Red Ladder ill be able to claim up to £2,000 of match funding from one-time donations – plus up to another £10,000 for monthly donations received as direct debits through the scheme.

The campaign’s current total stands at £12,600 towards its £80,000 target. The only core grant the company gets annually is £5,000 from Leeds Council.

Save Red Ladder is also offering ‘a piece of the play’ to every person who sets up a direct debit (minimum of £5 for six months) from today to the end of the Grow Your Tenner campaign. The company is yet to decide what this might be – a page of the script, a physical piece of the set, but it will include an invite to a party with David Peace, Red Ladder and the cast, which is likely to include a ‘name.’

To help the cause follow @saveredladder, use the #GisATenner hashtag, visit or donate directly via

Celebration of Rhinos legend John Atkinson's life following the church funeral servic at  the Headingley Pavilion. 1978 Challenge Cup final captain David Ward speaks.
19th January 2017.  Photos: Jonathan Gawthorpe

‘He stood out in every way’ - emotional tributes at funeral of Leeds rugby hero John Atkinson