FootBall fever is cranking up a gear as fans around the globe prepare for the kick-off of the 21st Fifa World Cup in Russia tomorrow.
Avid collectors of Panini stickers who have been saving their pennies in the hopes of scoring the full line-up of players in their World Cup 2018 sticker albums will be thrilled to discover that one maths whizz has come up with a solution to save them some cash.
Sammy Ford, an actuary at an Edinburgh-based firm, has put her considerable brainpower to good use by working out a formula that could save enthusiasts more than £600.
The Oxford University maths graduate calculated the model based on the assumption that collectors will be swapping stickers with friends and buying the last 50 stickers needed to complete the set directly from Panini. Her number crunching has found that football fans who share their spoils can fill a Panini album with its 682 stickers for as little as £161.65 – a massive saving on the £773.12 it would normally cost.
She 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 sure many parents and adult collectors will be interested in how much money they can save.”
Sammy devised the complicated maths formula during a recruitment exercise at her interview for the company she now works for, APR Acturial Solutions in Fountainbridge. After wowing her prospective employers with her numerical acumen, she was asked to develop the idea further – and bagged herself the job.
As well as pictures of the 32 squads of players competing in Russia from next week, there are special stickers for national badges, team group shots and host city posters, making a total of 682 stickers needed to fill the book.
In theory collectors would only have to buy 137 packets of stickers, at a total cost of £109.60, to complete the collection, but this assumes they never got any duplicates. Sammy says there’s more chance of winning the lottery than for that to happen.
From the equation that she devised she was able to calculate that a single collector would have to buy 966.4 packets of stickers at the total cost of £773.12 to fill their albums. Factoring in the sharing of stickers made the maths more difficult so Sammy ran her model through 1,000 different simulations of five friends swapping, bringing the average cost down to £329.40
Finally she honed her calculations even further to arrive at the final average cost of £161.65 for a fully-stocked sticker album.
As well as being a bit of fun for the football fans in the office, Sammy’s analysis has further reaching implications as her system can help solve financial problems that actuaries are called to work on. APR partner Gary Heslop said: “Swapping stickers can be compared to insurers pooling risks, and buying stickers directly from the supplier overlaps with the principles of reinsurance.”