To show support and appreciation for Jeff Pettitt’s unwavering service to Charlton and the game of football more generally, fans can donate to his fundraiser to help his family meet the costs of nursing care.
A true servant of the game, Jeff combined his full-time role as a professional referee with a mentoring post at the club, establishing the Charlton referees’ academy just over 20 years ago.
Last year, however, Jeff was very sadly forced to retire through illness having been diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), meaning he is now unable to walk and talk clearly, nor carry out basic everyday functions and is in 24 hour specialist residential nursing care, costing approximately £2,000 per week - with his updated Crowdfunding page available here.
While voluntarily running the programme at Charlton parallel to the club’s academy operations, Jeff afforded aspiring referees the opportunity to learn and develop in a professional setting, overseeing the rise of a number of officials into senior football - namely Constantine Hatzidakis, who now officiates in the Premier League and was linesman for the 2019 FA Cup final.
A real trailblazer, Jeff saw the success of this partnership become a blueprint for other academies nationwide, while his burning interest in the power of psychology saw him become a mind coach for golfing professionals - including Scott Drummond, who became just the second player to win the Volvo PGA Championship on their first attempt back in 2004.
As a referee Jeff climbed the ranks before coming to a crossroads, whereby he had to choose between his career at the bank and officiating; he chose the latter, bought a small referee’s equipment company and continued his progression, going on to spend five seasons as an assistant referee in the top flight.
He most recently worked as a referee’s assessor, regularly presenting to referee’s associations all over the country and dubbing himself ‘Jeff the renegade ref’, owing to his strong opinions on the art of refereeing that sometimes came a little outside of the box, challenging the status quo.
Club Secretary Chris Parkes said: “It was my responsibility to obtain officials for our under-9 to under-16 academy programme, and it was Jeff who provided officials for us. I have to say it was often at very short notice. It was not only the number of officials he had to get but the quality of the officiating was exceptional which is a great testimony to Jeff’s abilities as a referees coach.
“He has passed these skills on to another group led by Jas Basi and most recently Jamaal Horne, who is continuing the great work in the refereeing academy. Jeff is also a true gentleman and all his hard work and devotion given to Charlton Athletic and its academy deserves to be repaid. I urge you to get behind the funding campaign and help Jeff and his family get the help he and they need at this time.”
Academy Manager Steve Avory said: “As Assistant Academy Manager and now Academy Manager for over 21 years at Charlton, there have been thousands of academy fixtures, all made possible by Jeff’s appointment of officials, without fail, each week! Jeff always had great pride and would have taken so much satisfaction over seeing the young referees and assistants come through the rigorous, but very educative system he set up. As coaches in the academy it is sometimes taken for granted that these officials will be there every game. They were part of a superb development system, led by Jeff that continued under the watchful eyes of Jas and now Jamal. Myself and others who know Jeff should give all the support we can to assist him and his family in their current needs. A true gentleman and proud man in his dedicated role."