The former Channel 9 rugby league boss Steve Crawley has been poached by Fox Sports. The decision was taken “in a bid to maximise its historic investment in the NRL.”

Crawley has been with the Channel 9 network for almost 13 years and will move to Fox Sports after being offered the head of live sport. The Daily Telegraph reports that Crawley has been named the head of all live coverage and will join the pay-TV network from May. Sports executive Gary Burns will take on a new position to lead sports entertainment programming.”

The “60 Minutes” executive producer Tom Malone will replace Crawley. He previously headed the current affair show. Tom Malone has been promoted to being the director of sports on Channel 9. Kirsty Thompson will replace Malone at “60 Minutes”.

Fox Sports boss Patrick Delaney talked about Crawley’s appointment. “This puts in place a very strong team to take us into 2016 and beyond, with two of the best sports producers in the country working side by side. Having recently secured the biggest NRL rights in history and a new channel planned for 2017, we look forward to having Steve and his expertise on the team,” Delaney said. 

 “The moves come after Nine retained the rights to air NRL games in a five year deal which took the market by surprise when it was announced in August,” a source told Umbrella web site. 

There was major outrage within the Fox Sports camp after the deal concluded “without tying up the subscription TV rights.”

Back in November, Fox Sports had signed a deal to have a new dedicated league channel for the games and also a new exclusive Friday night game. Crawley will stay with Channel 9 till March and begin his new role in May with the Fox Sports.

“Steve Crawley has made an enormous contribution to our business over the past fourteen years.  He is one of those rare individuals who knows, practices and lives his craft to the benefit of the team of people who work with him. We’re immensely sad to see him go but wish him well for the future. He will always be a friend of Nine,” Nine CEO Hugh Marks said in a statement.