A UK Takeover Panel has ruled any approach by Sports Direct for outdoor clothing retailer Blacks Leisure Group must be put or withdrawn by 1 April.

Earlier today Blacks rejected any such takeover by Mike Ashley-owned Sports Direct as "wholly inadequate" and it now appears the situation has moved to a regulatory level.

"Following recent representations made by the advisers to Blacks Leisure, the Panel Executive has been considering the application of Rule 2.4(b) of the Code to the announcement made by Sports Direct, on 2 March 2010, in which it confirmed that it had made an approach to Blacks Leisure that may lead to an offer for Blacks Leisure," noted a Takeover Panel statement.

"The Panel Executive has ruled that, unless the Panel Executive consents otherwise, Sports Direct must, by 5.00pm on 1 April 2010, either announce a firm intention to make an offer for Blacks Leisure under Rule 2.5 of the Code or announce that it does not intend to make an offer for Blacks Leisure."

The Panel added if Sports Direct did not intend to make an offer for Blacks Leisure, Sports Direct and any person(s) acting with it would, unless the Panel executive agreed, be bound by the restrictions contained in Rule 2.8 of the Code for six months from the date of such announcement.

Sports Direct already holds a 28.5% stake in Blacks

Both parties have accepted the agreement.