KOCHI: The tussle between Kochi corporation and Kerala Blasters FC, which plays its Indian Super League (ISL) home matches in the city, is continuing over the entertainment tax from the tickets the club sold in the last two matches held at JLN Stadium, Kaloor. It is feared Kochi may lose the rights to host ISL matches if both parties don’t reach a mutual agreement.
“We have proceeded with steps from our end. A letter was sent to the goods and services tax (GST) office seeking reports. As per rules, the match hosts should pay 8.5% tax on every ticket that costs Rs 100 or more and 5% tax on the ticket priced below Rs 100 to Kochi corporation,” said a revenue official with Kerala Blasters.
Officials of Blasters FC and ISL said a similar situation had developed in 2019 as well. “We had taken the matter to the court in 2019 and obtained a stay. We are paying 28% GST and, hence, the entertainment tax does not apply to us,” said an official with Blasters FC.
“If we were bound to pay any money to the corporation, we would have paid already. We sent a detailed report and reply to the corporation’s notice on Thursday,” the official added.Kochi Mayor M Anilkumar said the corporation has no intention of terminating the licence. He said: “In my opinion, ifthere is any tax that must be paid to the corporation, it should have been done. The civic body has no intention of terminating the licence.”
‘We don’t want to stop ISL matches’
“The ISL matches bring a lot of crowds to the city and we don’t want to stop the matches. The corporation officials have sent letters to the government seeking clarity on the matter. Let’s wait till we hear from the government,” said Anilkumar.
As per the official statement by Kerala Blasters FC, after the implementation of GST, the Kerala government issued an order (No. 123/2017) on June 24, 2017, exempting football matches held in Kerala from entertainment tax. It said the order is still in effect.
“A writ petition is also pending before the Kerala High Court on the applicability of entertainment tax for football matches played in ISL tournaments. The HC has stayed the Kochi Corporation order demanding the payment of entertainment tax for football matches played in Kochi as part of ISL,” it said.
As the notice issued by the corporation is contrary to the interim stay and the government orders on the entertainment tax, it is not applicable, the statement said , adding that a reply has been sent to the corporation clarifying these matters and the local body has been urged to withdraw the notice.