THE Panini World Cup sticker album can be completed for as little as £161.65, according to an Oxford maths expert. 

Sammy Ford has used her degree in mathematics from Balliol College to work out what she believes is the cheapest way to collect all the stickers needed this year. 

Her calculations allow enthusiasts to beat the inflation-busting price rises on stickers and fill their book for a fifth of previous estimates. 

Taking into account 1,000 different simulations, her model is based on five friends swapping with eachother and relies on the last 50 stickers being ordered from Panini directly. 

The consulting actuary who works for APR said: “Armed with this information, those determined to fill their albums should be able to do so in the most cost-efficient way possible.

“I’m sorry to anyone who feels this level of mathematical analysis takes the fun out of it but I’m sure many parents – and adult collectors – will be more interested in how much money they can save as a result.”


Easy: Sammy Ford's workings out in her mission to find the cheapest way to fill a sticker book

Including pictures of the 32 squads of players, special stickers for national badges, team group shots and host city posters, collectors need to find a total of 682 stickers to fill the book.

In theory this would only require 137 packets of stickers, at a total cost of £109.60 if there were no duplicates but this is less likely than winning the national lottery. 

Ms Ford used the mathematical equation – e_k =[1/(1−Pr(k,0)]  ×(1+∑ i=1,5 Pr (k,i) ×e _k+i) to calculate that a single collector would expect to buy 966.4 packets of stickers at total a cost of £773.12.

But if the last 50 stickers needed are ordered directly, this cost plummets to £294.20 as new stickers become less and less likely the more you buy.

The last sticker alone is estimated to need 136 packets to find. 

Factoring swapsies into the equation required Ms Ford to developed a model based on five friends swapping fairly to maximise each person’s chances. 

She ran this through 1,000 different simulations, bringing the average cost down to £329.40. 

Combining all the factors, assuming five collectors were sharing their swapsies, that the final 50 stickers were bought directly from Panini and even assuming conspiracy theorists are right and that some stickers are less likely to come up, Ms Ford ran 2,000 further simulations to arrive at a final average cost of £161.65. 


Meanwhile, Alex and Sian Pratchett have ditched the maths in favour of drawing and are attempting to fill the book for free. 

The East Oxford pair have pledged to repeat their feat from 2014 of hand-drawing every single sticker and will begin the challenge as soon as the first game kicks off on Thursday.