Tom Hooper to direct Brian Clough biopic

Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired worldwide rights to “The Damned United,” a biopic of legendary English soccer coach Brian Clough, with Tom Hooper to direct from a script by Peter Morgan.

Sony will finance the $10 million project alongside BBC Films, which developed it with producer Andy Harries of Left Bank Pictures as well as Screen Yorkshire. Shooting starts May 25.

Jim Broadbent, Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney join the previously announced Michael Sheen, who will play Clough.

“The Damned United” was originally being pre-sold by Ealing Studios Intl., with Optimum Releasing set to take U.K. rights.

But with the indie financing structure proving tough to close, Deborah Schindler, prexy of SPE’s Intl. Motion Picture Production Group, made a worldwide offer that the producers couldn’t refuse.

The project is adapted from Dave Peace’s novel, set in 1974 but flashing back to the 1960s, about Clough’s ill-fated 44-day reign as coach of Leeds United, then one of England’s most successful soccer teams.

Hooper most recently helmed the HBO miniseries “John Adams” and before that won acclaim for the Brit telepics “Longford” (also written by Morgan) and “Elizabeth I.”

Since “The Queen,” Morgan has scripted the bigscreen adaptation of his own play “Frost/Nixon” and “The Other Boleyn Girl.”

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