BT has poached a top Sky executive to head its TV division as the two companies square up for the latest phase of their multibillion-pound war over football rights.

Delia Bushell has spent the past 14 years at BSkyB and Sky Italia in a variety of roles and is likely to go head to head with her former employees in the next battle over Premier League rights.

Ms Bushell, 41, has been chief commercial officer at Sky Italia since last June. 

She will take up her new role in July.

The announcement comes a couple of weeks after BT announced the departure of TV chief Marc Watson.

In her previous role at BSkyB, Oxford-educated mother-of-three Ms Bushell is credited with its transformation into a "triple play operator" - offering broadband and telephone services as well as TV.

As director of broadband and telephony, she took its broadband service from launch to more than 3.5 million subscribers.

The shift saw the broadcaster come up against BT, which has now muscled in on Sky's sports patch, challenging its Premier League dominance by snapping up the rights to show 38 live games a season for three years for £738 million.

The telecoms giant has since snatched Champions League football rights in a £900 million three-year deal and is widely expected to challenge BSkyB in the next auction for rights to English top-flight action.

Ms Bushell will set the long-term strategy for BT TV and BT Sport, as well as their financial performance, and will oversee the development and acquisition of content, including premium rights.

BT TV has a customer base of more than 950,000, while BT Sport channels, which can also be accessed via rival platforms, are already enjoyed by more than four million homes.

Ms Bushell said: "BT is shaking up the UK TV market and I am thrilled to be joining at such an exciting time."

BT Consumer chief executive John Petter said: "Delia has an excellent track record of delivery and is an experienced top-class executive."