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It’s been well documented that energy prices and inflation are out of control and that there’s a very real cost of living crisis happening right now, but I’m not sure if any of us decided to take a step back and consider what this might mean for our Panini sticker books come the World Cup this November.

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Of course, when you’re a child – OK when you’re an adult too, let’s be honest – for some reason one of the most fun activities out there is buying a packet of stickers, opening them, figuring out which ones you already have (don’t talk to me about Edison Mendez in 2006) and then placing them in an overpriced book. You’re gonna have to be earning a pretty packet if you want to indulge this year though, as experts estimate that completing the book is going to cost at least £870 this time.

Paul Harper, a mathematics professor from the University Of Cardiff, said the following:

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Five-sticker packs for the Qatar 2022 album cost 90p each, which is a 12.5% increase on the 80p cost of a five-sticker pack for the Russia 2018 album.

There are a total of 670 stickers to collect, but because of duplicates fans would need to buy a total of 4,832 stickers to complete the album. That’s roughly £870.

Even if fans were extremely lucky and never had a duplicate, they would still need to buy 137 packets to complete the whole book – £123 – but realistically that’s never going to happen.

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.

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 halfway through when you have just 19 stickers left to collect.

Really glad this guy is confronting the important issues whilst lecturing mathematics in his day job. What  a hero.

Anyway, as much fun as a sticker album is I just can’t see myself being able to afford it. As I grew older it always annoyed me as well that the squads weren’t accurate and they guessed who was going to be at the tournament and that’s another reason not to indulge this year. I know that Panini can’t really help that given the turnaround from when they’re announced and the start of the tournament, but it does help to soften the blow.

Who am I kidding though? I’ll probably still buy a few packs and stick the shiny on my laptop or something.

Good luck if you plan on trying to complete one this year. Maybe let your bank manager know in advance.

For more of the same, check out this sticker album for the Royal Wedding. Why the hell did they make that hey?

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