The US metal crew claims promoters of next month's Knebworth-based festival pushed them down to fourth on Sunday's [2 August] bill and gave Bizkit their slot beneath headliners Metallica and second-on Nine Inch Nails.
A statement on the band's website reads: "It is with the utmost disappointment that we must announce that [we] will not be playing the Sonisphere date.
"In a turn of events that has left us absolutely baffled, the promoter... recently placed, unbeknownst to us, Limp Bizkit in our 3rd slot on the festival. Seeing as the running order was a significant part of the negotiation and agreement between us and the promoter, and the fact that we had been advertised in that slot since the festival's announcement, you can imagine our surprise when we were "told" that we would now be playing in the 4th slot, under Limp Bizkit, and bizarrely, it was actually expected that we would quietly move down the bill without issue. We will not."
The band also claimed they turned down playing at last month's Download Festival in favour of Sonisphere as "we felt a closer kinship to the bands performing this year."
"So we have regrettably been left with no choice but to cancel our appearance rather than stand for the disrespect and indignity offered by a promoter who won't honor our agreement."
Sonisphere organisers issued a statement saying: "We have spent close to two weeks talking to Machine Head to try and keep them on the festival including offering them higher billing on the Saturn Stage, so that they would be performing immediately after Limp Bizkit and before NIN. They would also get a longer time slot and were offered an increase in fee. Unfortunately the band did not find this agreeable."
The rest of Machine Head's festival dates across Europe remain unchanged.