FOOTY is heading back to the Northern Territory with premier Melbourne and Gold Coast both confirming home games there in 2022.

Melbourne will host a 'Heart of the Nation' game at TIO Traeger Park in Alice Springs, while Gold Coast will play back-to-back weeks at Darwin's TIO Stadium, starting with a round 11 date with Hawthorn as part of Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

Both clubs have existing arrangements with the Northern Territory government to play there, but due to COVID-19 complications, were unable to in 2021.

Melbourne's scheduled match against Brisbane was moved to Sydney, as was the Suns' match against the Hawks.

Hawthorn's Chad Wingard in action against Gold Coast at the SCG in R11, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Melbourne CEO Gary Pert said the NT was an "incredibly special place" for the premiers to be playing matches again.

"Our players, coaches and staff have built a close relationship with the NT over the past decade and continue to focus on giving back to the community and ensuring our partnership is meaningful and impactful," Pert said.

"TIO Traeger Park has become like a second home for us, and it’s always fantastic to be able to connect with the local community and bring the AFL to their doorstep."

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Gold Coast has strengthened its ties with the Top End in recent years after getting access to Darwin as part of its Academy.

CEO Mark Evans said matches in successive weeks would create a "festival of football" in the capital city, with the Suns staying in the region the entire time.

Darwin's TIO Stadium hosted a Dreamtime clash between Essendon and Richmond in 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

For Hawthorn, the 2022 clash against the Suns will mark the first time it has played a home and away match in Darwin.

“The club was disappointed this year when it was unable to play its fixtured match-up against the Suns in Darwin due to COVID-19 restrictions,” chief commercial officer Ash Klein said.

“We’re rapt that we will get to head up there next year to celebrate Sir Doug Nicholls Round in what will be a proud moment for the club.

“Hawthorn shares a special connection to the Territory with our community and football ties to the region of Katherine, so this is another great chapter in this strong relationship.”