Scottish Premiership champions Celtic were unceremoniously eliminated from Champions League contention on Tuesday, losing 3-2 on aggregate to Greek side AEK Athens in the third qualifying round of the competition.

Celtic Champions League
Rodrigo Galo celebrates after scoring the opening goal in AEK Athens 2-1 victory over Celtic in the second leg of their Champions League qualifying match. (Image: Reuters)

Celtic had been previously held to a 1-1 draw at home before losing 2-1 in Athens, ending hopes of a third straight appearance in the Champions League group stage.

Financial Blow for Celtic

The Glasgow-based side had made the group stage in the first two seasons with Brendan Rodgers as manager. While Celtic had failed to do much damage they managed just one win and three draws in 12 matches, failing to advance to the knockout rounds in either appearance simply making the group stages was enough to bring a massive influx of cash into the club.

According to a report by the BBC, Celtic had earned about 60 million ($76.2 million) in prize money, broadcast revenues, and ticket sales through Champions League play in the past two seasons. Now, the team will instead have to try to qualify for the Europa League, where the rewards while still in the millions of pounds pale in comparison.

That could mean that the club will have to sell players to make up for the shortfall in revenue. While Celtic doesnt throw money around like their EPL counterparts to the south, they did spend a club record 8 million ($10.1 million) to bring in striker Odsonne Eduoard from Paris Saint-Germain during the summer.

Rodgers Says Hes Staying

The loss may intensify speculation that Rodgers will want to move on from the Scottish club due to frustrations over a lack of spending in the transfer market. After a surprising 1-0 loss to Hearts on Saturday in Scottish Premiership play, Rodgers tried to extinguish those rumors.

I love my life here, Rodgers said in his post-match press conference. Id read somewhere else about walking away. Ive got three years on my contract hereof course, we want qualify players, but theres still improvement in this squad and this team. All I want is for us to improve every aspect of the club.

Celtic is the dominant force in Scottish soccer, having won the nations top league seven years in a row. The last time the club finished worse than second was the 1994-95 season; the last time a team other than Celtic or local rivals Rangers has failed to win the top Scottish league was in the 1984-85 season, when Aberdeen claimed the title. Celtic has also won the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup in each of the past two seasons.

But Celtic has rarely enjoyed European glory. Their one continental championship came in 1966-67, when they won the European Cup, the forerunner to what is now the Champions League.

AEK Athens will move on to the playoff round, where 12 teams will battle for six spots in the Champions League group stage. Other notable teams attempting to qualify include Benfica, Ajax, Dynamo Kyiv, and Red Bull Salzburg.

The winners will join 26 prequalified teams, most of which come from the largest leagues in Europe. William Hill has made the top teams from those prominent leagues the favorites to win the Champions League, with top picks including Manchester City (5/1), Juventus (6/1), FC Barcelona (6/1), Bayern Munich (15/2), and defending champions Real Madrid (7/1).

Meanwhile, Celtic will have to be content with collecting more domestic glory. The club is an overwhelming 1/5 favorite to win their eighth straight Scottish league title, with Rangers (9/2) considered the only threat to their dominance.