The Hoops were dumped out at the third qualifying round of European football’s premier club competition after going down 3-2 on aggregate.
Goals in either half from Rodrigo Galo and Marko Livaja rendered Scott Sinclair’s late header meaningless as AEK celebrated a 3-2 aggregate victory.
It capped a disappointing week for Celtic that began with the manager venting his frustration over a lack of summer business. Their failure to reach the group stage for a third successive year means they miss out on a record prize fund which will be handed out to the 32 clubs who make it beyond qualifying.
Earlier this summer UEFA announced a bumper prize fund kitty for this year’s competition thanks to booming broadcast and commercial revenues.
Reaching the Champions League playoff stage would have netted the Hoops at least €5m (£4.5m) should they have lost out at that stage – but a whole lot more if they progressed to the group stage for a third successive year.
Qualification for the group stage this year is worth a guaranteed £13.35m, plus £2.36m for a win and nearly £800,000 for a draw.