October 23, 2019
Everyone at the club was saddened to learn that the SFA's Head of Referee Operations, John Fleming, has passed away after a long illness.
John, who was 62, will be sadly missed by everyone at Airdrieonians FC and indeed throughout the game. Many a manager and club official liked to call John to discuss the previous game's incidents, and he listened to them all.
John led the association’s referee operations with distinction for eight years. He was a respected member of the association’s senior management team and beloved by the refereeing community, among whom his loss will be felt most profoundly.
Although his role came with public profile, John was a private man who drew strength from his continued commitment to refereeing even while in ill health.
He joined the Scottish FA’s referee development department in 2009 and enjoyed a successful career as a match official, appointed to Category One status in 1994 and performing as a FIFA Assistant Referee from 1994 to 1997, culminating in him being part of Scotland’s officiating team at UEFA EURO96.
During his time at the Scottish FA, John oversaw the training and development of match officials at all levels and implemented a new structure to enhance referee recruitment and retention.
His work was recognised across the world game: he was appointed as a Referee Observer for UEFA and joined illustrious names such as Pierluigi Collina and Massimo Busacca on the Technical Advisory Panel of the International Football Association Board – world football’s lawmakers.
Indeed, he was integral to the hosting of IFAB’s 133rd AGM held in Scotland earlier this year before ill health.
Rod Petrie, Scottish FA President: “John was a private man and many people will be shocked to learn of his passing after an illness borne with fortitude. His commitment was unstinting to the game, his refereeing colleagues and the association.
“He worked tirelessly in support of his match officials, whom he considered an extended family. He undertook his responsibilities as Head of Referee Operations with passion and integrity, qualities that met with respect across the game: in boardrooms, in dressing rooms and, of course, in referees’ rooms.
“John was a dedicated family man and suffered the loss of his wife Ann with the love of his children Dawn and Graham, and of course his grandchildren Anna, Charlie and Rose, on whom he doted. Our thoughts are with his family.
“I know I speak on behalf of the board, John’s friends and colleagues within the Scottish FA, the referee community and clubs across the country in saying that we will miss a trusted colleague, a man of honour and principle, and a dear friend.”
Everyone connected to Airdrieonians FC would like to join the SFA in offering their condolences to John's family and friends at this sad time.