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Over £750 to fill this year's Panini World Cup sticker album

Panini's World Cup 2018 sticker book will cost the average collector £773.60 to complete, a leading mathematician has calculated. Credit: PA

It will cost the average collector £773.60 to fill this year's Panini World Cup sticker album, according to a leading mathematician.

Professor Paul Harper considered the cost after the Italian brand announced the price of a pack of five stickers was increasing from 50p to 80p.

The album has 682 spaces and on average a collector will have purchased 4,832 stickers, or 967 packets, before completing the book.

The maths expert from Cardiff University's School of Mathematics said the minimum cost of collecting all 682 stickers was £109.60, based on buying 137 packets and never getting a duplicate, but he said this was "extremely unlikely".

The mathematician then calculated the most likely scenario, using a complex formula.

The album now includes spaces for team logos, stadiums, managers, and legends, as well as all the players. Credit: PA

He 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."

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.

Interestingly, you hit the half way point of filling the book when you have 19 stickers to go.

A vintage Panini sticker album for the 1972/73 football season. Credit: PA

The professor 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."

However, 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%.

In 2016 the 680-space Euro sticker book cost on average £374 to fill, meaning the cost has more than doubled.

"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," said Prof Harper.

The album now includes spaces for team logos, stadiums, managers, and legends, as well as all the players.