Ian Evatt has explained that the Scottish midfielder opted to link-up with his former Bolton boss Keith Hill at Tranmere to gain the first team football he was no longer guaranteed at the UniBol.
Crawford was signed up to a two-year contract last summer but had dropped out of contention in recent weeks, his only start in the last seven games coming against Rovers in a 2-1 defeat at Prenton Park on January 23.
Competition was ramped up on deadline day as Evatt signed West Ham youngster Oladapo Alofayan and Charlton playmaker Marcus Maddison – but the Bolton boss insists the did not force Crawford out the door.
“Ali has struggled to form this season but we know he’s a talented player and a fantastic lad but we simply couldn’t guarantee him minutes on the pitch at the moment,” he said.
“We were going to strengthen in that area. I was going to sign Marcus regardless, and Dapo, so there was going to be a lot of competition for places.
“I explained the situation to Ali and it was his call, really. He decided he wanted to go and find some more regular football, which is fine by me.
“Ali is a fantastic lad and I hope he goes there and does really well. He’s obviously playing for a manager who knows him well and can get the best out of him, so I wish him all the best.”
Crawford admits that his familiarity with Hill was a big factor in deciding to move away from Bolton.
“Having played for him last season, I got on with him well, he knows me as a player and what I can bring to the club, so hopefully I can go out on the pitch and show that,” he said.
“I know his expectations and what he wants you to do during the matches and the targets he wants you to hit, so I know all about that.”