Preston have reported Stoke to the English Football League over an alleged illegal approach for their manager Alex Neil.
Stoke sacked Nathan Jones on Friday and radio reports said that Neil, who has turned Preston into Sky Bet Championship promotion candidates, is their number one managerial target.
But Preston said in a club statement on Saturday: “Stoke City Football Club have not been given permission to speak our contracted manager Alex Neil.
“As a result of the reports that were made this lunchtime, there are now no circumstances under which Stoke City would be given permission to speak to Alex Neil.
“We have today reported Stoke City to the EFL for an illegal approach. There will be no further comment at this stage.”
Scotsman Neil took Norwich into the Premier League in 2015 and joined Preston in July 2017.
Preston started the weekend in second place ahead of Sunday’s trip to Charlton.
Nathan Jones left Stoke after only 10 months in the Potteries.
The former Luton boss won only six of his 38 games in charge, having succeeded Gary Rowett in January, and left with Stoke second from bottom in the Championship.