By Angelos Anastasiou
THE Strovolos municipal council last night rejected a request by APOEL and Omonia football clubs to further cut the entertainment tax payable for football games played at the GSP stadium.
In a unanimous decision, the council ended the debate on further slashing the entertainment tax payable from 5 to 3 per cent.
In November 2014, the tax had been cut from 10 to 5 per cent, but the teams asked for a further reduction to be applied retroactively.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, Strovolos Mayor Lazaros Savvides announced the decision that the tax would remain at 5 per cent on every game played at GSP, whether for local or European tournaments.
The two Nicosia clubs had asked for the tax to be scrapped for European games, but this demand was also opposed.
Retroactiveness was also a no-go, according to Savvides, who cited a legal opinion.
“A decision is in force from the moment it is made going forward – it can’t go backward,” he said.
In addition to having their demands met, the two clubs had asked for a final and irrevocable commitment by future municipal councils to honour the decisions.
“This was not a realistic demand,” Savvides said.
“Each municipal council is subject to itself and cannot make irrevocable decisions for anything in the future. This would be illegal and contrary to any principle.”
The Strovolos mayor said the issue had been discussed by the council many times, noting that there had been deliberations and reactions by various councillors, but no decision had been made thus far.
“We couldn’t wait any longer because there are many sizeable amounts in arrears to the municipality,” Savvides explained.
“APOEL owes the municipality a lot of money, because of the European games it has played – a little less than €300,000, just for its European games, not the local tournaments. Omonia owes us slightly less than €80,000, again for its European games only.”
But that’s not all, Savvides said.
“[Limassol club] Apollon, which used the stadium for its European games last season, also owes us money, but at least it has paid some of its dues.”
Based on a municipality internal memo drafted in March 2015 that was leaked to the press, APOEL appears to owe the municipality close to €300,000. Omonoia owes around €70,000 while Apollon Limassol owes around €21,000.
Until June 2014, entertainment tax was levied on 30 per cent of total ticket revenues per game, because the Cyprus Sports Association had deemed 70 per cent of the ticket price a sports stamp. This was overturned in court, and since last June the tax was applicable on the full ticket price, resulting in clubs
asking for its reduction.
Asked when APOEL and Omonia might be asked to pay up, Savvides said they will be given a reasonable period.
“In case they face financial difficulty the method of repayment will be decided jointly,” he said.