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You will need to be on a footballer’s wage to fill the Panini 2018 World Cup sticker book. Professor Paul Harper has calculated a single collector would need to buy 4,832 stickers, or 967 packets to complete the collection. Bad news for parents and not great for the rest of us.

Prof Harper said: “The first sticker you buy is absolutely guaranteed not to be a duplicate.

“The second sticker you get has a 681/682 (99.85%) chance of being a new sticker.

“The third sticker you get has a 680/682 (99.7%) chance of being a new sticker, and so on.”

Getting a headache yet?

Prof Harper then added up all of the probabilities of getting a new sticker to obtain a formula, which he adjusted using conditional probabilities because the stickers come in packs of five.

Still with me? There’s more. His calculations showed that on average you would need to buy 4,832 stickers, or 967 packets, to complete the book, costing £773.60.

Prof Harper added his calculations showed that once you had only 19 stickers left to collect, you would still need to buy 483 packets of stickers to complete the World Cup sticker book.

brazil world cup sticker book
Anyone else still struggling to fill this one? (Popartic /

The prof said: “What is interesting is that to collect just the last 19 stickers for the book, you would still be required to buy 483 packets of stickers, or half the total number of expected packets.

“Put another way, you are only half way through when you have just 19 stickers left to collect.” Everything clear now?

Hang on there’s still more.

Prof Harper said avid collectors could significantly reduce their outlay by collecting in groups and said two people collecting and swapping can reduce the number of packets required by 30%, five players by 57% and 10 players by 68%.

However, even with 10 friends swapping it might still cost them each £247 on average to complete the World Cup sticker book.

The prof has got form

In 2016 Prof Harper calculated that the average cost of filling the brand’s 680-space Euro sticker book was £374, meaning the cost has more than doubled from that in 2018.

He said: “I can still recall the joy of finally completing my first Panini album as a young boy for the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

“I must have used an awful lot of pocket money to do this, as well as having generous grandparents handing over bundles of packets of stickers, coupled with tense negotiations of swapping duplicates with friends in the school playground.

“Filling an album has become progressively more expensive over the years since then, not just because there are typically more teams competing now, but because Panini have become more creative about allocating spaces.”

Chasing profits in other words.

My advice – save your money. There’s much better things you can spend £700 on. Like these bargain price laptops for example – see what I did there 🙂


Apparently, if you can wait until after the World Cup to complete your collection Panini put the album and all the loose stickers you need on their website for £60. Now that’s more like it.

* Prices correct at time of posting.


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