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World Cup 2014: Taking the fun out of Panini football stickers or putting the fun into algebra?

A football fan and mathematician has calculated exactly how many stickers a collector would need to buy in order to fill up the official World Cup album

The official album, which consists of 640 stickers and has been produced by Italian company Panini since the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, is collected by children - and a worrying amount of adults - all around the world.

But Matthew Scroggs, who works at a secondary school in West London, worked out that the average football fan should expect to purchase 4,505 stickers - worth an eye-watering £413.24 - to complete the whole book.

That figure is so high because it determines the probability of accruing duplicates and excludes the possibility of swapping those duplicates with other collectors.

Speaking to the Independent, Mr Scroggs, who has been collecting football stickers for over a decade, explained: "I was sticking stickers in my album and wondering how many I would need to buy. Once I'd worked that out I carried on and worked out the cost...  then I raided my savings account.

"I haven't been put off by my findings at all though. Partly because I excluded swapping stickers and ordering the last ones online, so I'm hoping the actual cost will be a lot less."


The Panini website allows collectors to purchase their final 100 missing stickers - which wipes out the chance of buying duplicates and therefore significantly reduces the cost - to something like £133.99 according to Mr Scroggs' calculations.

If a shrewd collector can also make the most of swapping their doubles with other Panini fanatics then the total price could be a whole lot less.

But for Mr Scroggs, the cost is irrelevant. "For me, it's all a part of the excitement of the upcoming World Cup. I get to know the players, stadiums, groups and fixtures all through the sticker album."