Motherwell have refused Hearts permission to speak to manager Mark McGhee.
The Edinburgh club made their move following the end of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League season.
McGhee steered Motherwell to third place and UEFA Cup qualification in his first year at Fir Park, while Hearts finished in eighth.
The Motherwell board are eager to keep McGhee, and announced: 'Motherwell Football Club can today confirm that it has received an official approach from Heart of Midlothian Football Club, seeking permission to speak with current manager Mark McGhee about the vacant managerial role at Tynecastle.
'After consideration, the Motherwell FC board of directors have decided to refuse this request.'
The approach from Hearts came as no great surprise, with their interest in McGhee having been well known.
McGhee could expect a huge pay rise by taking the Hearts job, however he would be eager to ensure he has control over team issues, with no intervention in selection or tactics from owner Vladimir Romanov.
With such assurances the job might appeal to the former Celtic striker, who turns 51 on Sunday.
However, by joining Hearts, McGhee would be missing out on the chance to be involved in European competition for the first time.
And if he could maintain Motherwell's success next season there could be the prospect of bigger jobs on the horizon.
Motherwell midfielder Steven McGarry urged the former Celtic striker to stay on with the Steelmen.
'We want him to stay, we've had a tremendous season. He has had a real influence on a lot of us,' said 24-year-old McGarry.
'He has instilled a confidence in me and given me the licence to go and enjoy myself and go and play but also make sure I am working hard at the same point. He has definitely taken me to a new level.
'It just shows you, in the two performances since getting into Europe we have given everything for him, and ourselves as well.
'We want him to stay, we want `Leitchy' [assistant manager Scott Leitch] to stay, and we want to keep the nucleus of the squad together.
'The next season is going to be bigger than this one because the expectation levels are higher and we are going into the UEFA Cup, so we are going to step up.
'It would be a bit of a blow to lose our manager before such a vital season but if he does go, life goes on, someone else will come in and we will just need to get on with it.
'He will bring new players in and we will just need to keep those levels we have maintained through the season.'
McGhee last night claimed he would need to think 'long and hard' about turning his back on Motherwell.
After his side's impressive 2-0 win at Hibernian, he insisted he had no plans to leave Fir Park and had not spoken with Hearts.
McGhee said: 'I will be here until something changes and that will require another club, if that's what's going to happen, to speak to Motherwell.
'And then there will still be a lot of discussion because we have reached Europe. I'm looking forward to that at the moment.
'I have got no plans but other people might be making plans so we will just have to wait and see.
'If someone does come in for me I am going to have to really think long and hard about it.
'I have moved before and it has ended up not being the right thing. So I will think twice about anything we do.'
McGhee moved back to his native Scotland after spells as a manager in England with Reading, Leicester, Wolves, Brighton and Millwall.
The Motherwell job has been his first management post in Scotland.